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Mary Portas cash 'more trouble than help' for Liskeard

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: February 13, 2014

Comments (12)

BUSINESS owners say £100,000 awarded to Liskeard to help rejuvenate the town has been "more trouble than it's worth".

The Town Team – set up to help deliver the money given to Liskeard when the town was chosen as a Portas Pilot by high street retail guru Mary Portas – has confirmed it will have been spent by April.

So far £60,000 has gone on advertising and events, and a further £25,000 is committed to help revitalise the town.

Future projects include a £9,000 website and a £12,000 photographic advertising campaign.

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But some businesses say they are unimpressed with where the cash has gone.

Mark Ansell, owner of Liskeard News in Fore Street, said: "I think the money has been wasted. They have spent it all on collating information. The website should have been the first thing to be done.

"The Town Team have got their heart in the right place but they weren't up to it – they didn't want to listen to people or involve anybody.

"They spent money on a music festival and on people to advise them on it, and it was a complete flop.

"They spent thousands on window dressers from London, when there's a woman in the town who could have done it for a fraction of the price.

Dean Petvin-Moore, manager of Liskeard Carpets in Pigmeadow Lane and Liskeard FM, said: "This money has caused more trouble than it's worth because more people have been arguing about how the money has been spent.

"They should have involved more local people instead of outsourcing businesses from elsewhere.

"We had a radio station launched that was funded by traders in the town, that has had more of an impact than the Portas money."

Channel 4 showed how the cash was helping the town when it aired a documentary, Mary Queen Of The High Street, in May 2013.

An assessment, costing £3,500, by charitable research organisation the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), will look at how the Portas cash has benefited the town in February and March.

In response to the criticism, Sally Hawken, chairman of the Town Team and Cornwall councillor for Liskeard said: "I'm a firm believer that the Portas Pilot has been good for the town in a number of ways and I am very interested to see how this is quantified by the independent assessment CLES undertakes.

"One of the strongest benefits must be maintaining Liskeard's prominence locally and regionally for a good 18 months – we're definitely on the map and hard to ignore now. We've consistently talked up Liskeard and many have come to check out the town for themselves.

"If you speak to the many businesses who took part in the recent window-dressing project, or those currently working together to get the refund scheme off the ground, I think you'll find Liskeard has indeed found ways to work together effectively for the good of the town through the pilot."

The Town Team and Liskeard Town Council are working together to commission a website designer to produce a Tourist Information Centre website and a town council website to promote the town.

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  • Drectly_m8  |  August 02 2014, 12:12PM

    The Portas woman was poison. Patronising and London-centric. I genuinely cannot see any difference in Liskeard since she and her team swooped town, but I do see a lot of frayed tempers and disappointment.

  • davenaylor  |  February 14 2014, 6:30PM

    exactly the same issues with Liskeard manifest themselves with Plymouth. In Plymouth £14 million of our money was given to the Plymouth city centre company to improve the city centre but exactly like Liskeard all that money was wasted on lining the pockets of marketers who squander it on stupid projects such as "ocean city". If we are to throw our taxes at town centres then those who control the money should listen rather than ignore the local traders.

    |   14
  • JeremyBadger  |  February 14 2014, 12:44PM

    Nothing at Liskeard to attract shoppers any more than the other towns such as St Austell and Bodmin. This has just been a total waste of our taxpayers money by our leaders in Westminster.

    |   13
  • MarjProops  |  February 14 2014, 9:45AM

    @ Halfmoon "Typical small town mentality, I'm afraid." I couldn't agree with you more. We appear to get a similar attitude in St Austell where small independent shop keepers seem to think they know better than the proven experts and big national chain stores with their massive resources. In my view there is a complete lack of understanding when it comes to economics in this neck of the woods and a reluctance to learn from others who do actually know what they are talking about.

    |   9
  • lemon_entry  |  February 14 2014, 6:31AM

    I wouldn't visit Liskeard (or any similar town) just to visit. And, getting involved with massaging the ego of that appalling old boiler makes it less likely than ever.

    |   4
  • yveyk  |  February 13 2014, 5:11PM

    The problem with Liskeard is that it is not disabled friendly. I have trouble with ramps, steps, steep hills, cobbles, granite steps. Need I say more? The last time I went I struggled down to the shopping street from the car park as I couldn't find a space nearer. Walked the length of the pedestrian area and struggled up the other hill at the far end. I got back to my car having spent very little because I can't carry and struggle up hill too. Waste of time. Launceston is similar as I can't manage the terrible pathways there either - I'm not steady on my feet unless I have smooth pathways. Callington has started the 'non' crossing where they take away our pedestrian crossing and let us get run over instead. I will be contacting the H & S executive when the first pensioner is run down, it could be me! No one wanted it removed so why risk lives to put in a space for us to cross? Not impressed. Even Plymouth brick pavements are being undermined and you can't even use a mobility scooter safely there.

    |   13
  • johnkizzie  |  February 13 2014, 4:55PM

    That amount for photography shouts out something is not right who gave the ok for that budget get the local schools involved use there media studies students that budget should be at the most £500 for photographs with a local photographer

    |   7
  • Truro_England  |  February 13 2014, 4:28PM

    I was born, lived and worked in Truro nearly all my life. I believe I have only been to Liskeard twice in my 33 years! Its one of those many towns in Cornwall I really have no interest in ever wanting to visit, why should I.

    |   7
  • Altcult  |  February 13 2014, 2:21PM

    The figures mentioned aren't accurate. There is a total budget of £12,000 for photography and 2 websites. The total allocated amount for both websites is only £3,000 so these are going to be of limited quality and content and unlikely to improve the downmarket perception of the town.

  • Halfmoon  |  February 13 2014, 2:17PM

    Typical small town mentality, I'm afraid.

    |   12



      Has the Portas Pilot scheme proved more trouble than its worth for Liskeard?

      Yes: 68%

      68% of the vote

      Don't know: 17%

      17% of the vote

      No: 15%

      15% of the vote

      Poll is closed