Rasen Councillors move to secure leftover £24k Portas grant

Market Rasen.
Market Rasen.

Councillors in Market Rasen are hoping to secure leftover money from the ‘Portas Pilot’ project to help fund a series of events in the town.

The Portas Pilot project was set up to transform struggling high streets in market towns across the country and featured retail supremo and TV personality Mary Portas.

Market Rasen.

Market Rasen.

It stopped in Rasen last year but it has emerged £24,000 is still left in the funding pot.

The money is being held by West Lindsey District Council but town councillors in Rasen have submitted a request for it to be handed to them to boost the high street and fund events like the successful Arts Festival that was held last year.

At a meeting last week, m embers of the town council’s finance committee voted to submit an official request to West Lindsey.

The meeting heard that West Lindsey had proposed sharing the leftover cash with the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce.

However, town councillors expressed concerns that the idea would not have a ‘direct benefit’ to Market Rasen.

Coun Stephen Bunney, chairman of the town council’s finance committee, said: “As we understand it, there is currently around £24,000 of the Portas Pilot (money) that has yet to be spent.

“It is being held by West Lindsey District Council until it is drawn down for legitimate expenditure by anybody in the town.

“There is a proposal which has been put forward by West Lindsey to share that £24,000 with Lincoln Chamber of Commerce who were going to support the town in the market and the high street.

“My worry on that is that they will employ somebody to do that work.

“That will eat a fair proportion of that money up and it will not bring direct benefit to the town.

“I would like to propose that this council writes to the WLDC, saying that this money is set aside for Market Rasen Town Council to use to sponsor events that bring art, craft and activities to the town.

“Also, we would be able to use it to enhance the high street which could be Christmas trees or decorations. I don’t want to just say it comes into the council’s coffers and we spend it.

“My proposal is that we would apply to WLDC for the money to be drawn down to match the criteria laid down by Mary Portas to support the town, the traders and the environment.”

Councillors have their say...

Town councillor Stephen Bunney said: “The arts festival we had in the town in october was highly successful, and that would be a good thing for the portas pilot money to be used for.’

Town councillor Cathryn Turner said: “The money itself was awarded to Market Rasen and I can’t understand why it should be dealt with by Lincoln when it’s about the town, or the town’s people.”

Town and West Lindsey District Councillor Thomas Smith said: “Councillor Bunney has hit the nail on the head.

“I agree entirely with the proposal you’ve made and I think we, as a responsible body, would be in a far better position to use that money for a greater benefit to the town of Market Rasen than the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce.”