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Towns regeneration contest launched

The Government has launched a competition to find 12 areas to share £1 million under a drive to regenerate town centres.

The move follows last year's review of high streets by retail guru Mary Portas aimed at halting the decline of high streets and closure of local shops.

The 12 towns in England will be selected to run so-called Portas Pilots and "breathe new life" into local shopping centres, creating town teams, made up of the key players in their local community - such as the council, landlords, shopkeepers and the local MP.

Local government minister Grant Shapps said: "Our high streets have faced stiff competition from internet shopping, and out-of-town shopping centres, leaving them unused, unloved and under-valued.

"The internet is not going to go away, and so for our high streets to survive they need to offer something new and exciting.

"So today I'm offering a golden ticket to 12 town centres across the country to become Portas Pilots - areas with the vision and enthusiasm to breathe new life into what should be the beating heart of their communities, and they will get Mary's and my support as they try out the ideas in her recent review."

Ms Portas said: "I am thrilled that now there is an opportunity to turn my recommendations into reality by giving communities across the country the opportunity to come forward with their vision for breathing new life into their locality.

"I want the first 12 town teams to challenge the old ways of working, experiment, take risks and reaffirm their place at the heart of a community. A place we all want to be and can be proud of."

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