Beds, Herts & Bucks

Portas pilot: Bedford gets share of £1.2m town centre fund

Bedford is to receive a share of £1.2m government cash on offer to rejuvenate town centre shopping areas.

Local Government Minister Grant Shapps said the town would get a tailored package of support from retail guru Mary Portas, who has led the campaign.

Bedford's scheme aims to put a "buzz" back into a town centre, which contains many vacant shops.

An empty shop would become a sales and support unit for all other businesses on the High Street.

Mr Shapps said large businesses would support and mentor small independent retailers.

"They will also start more imaginative community use of empty properties," he said.

Portas - star of TV shows such as Mary Queen of Shops - will meet all the winning bidders and offer advice.

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