In our interview with MR BIG directors Richard Hallsworth and Darren Lince we question them on the group’s successes and failures.
Has the high street been rejuvenated (the aim of the Portas Pilot scheme)?
“If you want to make a difference you’ve got to be involved”Darren Lince
Mr Lince said: “For a period of time when MR BIG was operating there was a time when high streets across the country were really struggling - we increased occupancy rates through a difficult time.
“We had a lot of people who had heard about the pilot and came and gave it a try.
“Even now the occupancy rates are higher than when we started the journey.
“There’s still empty shops, there’s still a general trend away from the high street.
“I don’t think we’ve been big enough or clever enough to stop the general trend of online shopping.
“It’s not just Market Rasen, it’s across the country.
“Small high streets are struggling.
“Overall we feel quite proud of our achievements.”
Mr Hallsworth said: “The high street is a lot tidier.
“Businesses have done their bit and shops got painted.
“There’s no where on the high street that’s a real eyesore now.”
What is MR BIG’s biggest achievement?
Mr Lince said: “Town Tidy. We improved the look of the town.
“We wrote to a number of businesses that we felt detracted from the look of the town and worked with probation services to get youngsters doing community service.”
Mr Hallsworth said: “We had some fantastic markets.
“That was one of the high points.
“And I think some of our marketing was very good.”
What are you disappointed about?
Mr Lince said: “What I hadn’t realised was the amount of different organisations in Market Rasen. A lot of them are working independently.
“There’s an awful lot of people trying to do an awful lot of good.
“I’m hoping the Town Centre Partnership will do a lot with these groups together.”
MrHallsworth said: “We never really attracted new people onto the board.
“A lot of people knew it was a lot of work so that’s understandable.”
What is your message to people who criticised MR BIG’s work?
Mr Lince said: “If you want to make a difference you’ve got to be involved.
“It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and criticise, we’ve had our critics.
“One of many frustrations with these critics is ‘come along and be part of it if we’re not doing things right’.
“We’d much rather know.”
Mr Hallsworth said: “Talk to us, understand what we’re trying to achieve.
“Without MR BIG we would never have got any funding.
“If we hadn’t have existed we wouldn’t have had any money spent.
“It’s still better to have a go than not have won the grant in the first place.”