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No Portas money for Dover ... but there's a second chance

Dover Town Team
Dover Town Team

by Graham Tutthill


Dover has not been chosen as one of the 12 Portas Towns to be given an economic boost to help revive their high streets. But it will go into a second round which will result in another 15 towns being selected by the end of July.

The Dover Town Team, led by businesswoman Louise Miller, had submitted a bid highlighting some of the problems Dover is facing, and putting forward some ideas to make things better.

Among their plans is a Blue Bird trail through the town.

When the winning towns were announced this morning, Dover was not among them. Margate and Dartford were the only towns in Kent to be chosen. They will receive £100,000 as well as advice from retail expert Mary Portas on how to make improvements.

Although disappointed by the decision, Mrs Miller had already announced that they would press on with their plans to to improve the town.

"As a group of volunteers, we have been enthused by the process we had to go through to produce a non-political coherent bid that is worthy of our town’s needs and aspirations.

"We were delighted and encouraged by the support of nearly 400 businesses whose owners or managers wrote to us offering their support.

"So we have decided that what we must do is go forward with the Portas project.

"We understand that it is a big ask, but if we can make the entrances to the town more attractive and provide enticing signage, perhaps we can attract more people into the town.

"More people means more customers, more confidence and the two together means profit and opportunity. Success will mean new business for the town, with new shops opening up."

Mrs Miller said the town team needed members to support the project and they were applying for funding.

"We are properly costing the easy things like the Bench Street signage and the blue bird signs and trail.

"This is being done for all the businesses in Dover to try to give us a bit of a lift, and more importantly an attempt to give us our self-respect back.

"We understand that, constrained by all sorts of ridiculous things that none of us understand, the district council is working extremely hard to deliver the regeneration.

"To us ordinary shopkeepers, it looks as though nothing seems to happen to help us.

"But in the meantime, we have to shrug off the cynical, defeatist attitude and busy ourselves to do something to scratch the surface and get something done.

"This year is going to be the start of something great for our businesses in Dover."

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