Portas team aim to make 2013 a year of action

The Portas team hope to breathe new life into Berwick town centre

The Portas team hope to breathe new life into Berwick town centre

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BERWICK’S Portas town team is aiming to turn its financial windfall into a series of achievable and sustainable projects that will breathe life back into town centre over the next 12 months.

It was one of 27 towns across the UK to be awarded £100,000, later match-funded by Northumberland County Council, to put retail guru Mary Portas’ vision of increased footfall on the high street into place.

“It’s been a slow start while we’ve made sure we’re going about things the right way but now the foundations are in place we think 2013 will be a very exciting year when we start to see some real improvements in Berwick,” said town team member Ed Swales.

Adopting the label ‘Beautiful Berwick’ as the brand, playing to the obvious beauty of the architecture, landscape and heritage that it possesses, the town team endeavours to deliver an innovative approach to find common ground from amongst all the various organisations and entities within Berwick and then together deliver projects of value.

“We’re conscious that it’s still a very tough time for many people and businesses, but Berwick is a resilient community and we detect a real sense of optimism and determination to overcome the challenges we face,” said Ed.

“There have been encouraging developments,” he added. “The Northumberland Development Company, Arch, opened an office in Berwick this year and they have been developing an ambitious investment plan for the town centre, including proposals for the much-needed regeneration of Walkergate.

“The town team is working closely with Arch and we are hopeful that our early action projects will pave the way for the even larger schemes that they are bringing forward.”

He praised the success of the Berwick Historic Area Improvement Scheme which has seen the refurbishment of several buildings in Castlegate and Bridge Street, and looked forward to seeing the results of the Mouth of the Tweed initiative and Berwick Parks Project which recently secured almost £900,000 lottery funding.

Ed added: “We look forward to Beautiful Berwick maintaining its rightful place as the Jewel in the Crown of this region and despite being a few degrees colder, have enjoyed hearing recent references to Berwick as the “Monaco of the North!”

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