High street pilot flies past resort

File photo dated 3/6/2009 of Housing Minister Grant Shapps. Council tenants who rake in thousands of pounds a year by subletting their homes face up to two years in prison, it was revealed today. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday January 11, 2012. Courts would also be able to fine offenders up to �50,000, under detailed proposals unveiled by the Government. See PA story POLITICS Housing. Photo credit should read: Ian Nicholson/PA Wire

File photo dated 3/6/2009 of Housing Minister Grant Shapps. Council tenants who rake in thousands of pounds a year by subletting their homes face up to two years in prison, it was revealed today. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday January 11, 2012. Courts would also be able to fine offenders up to �50,000, under detailed proposals unveiled by the Government. See PA story POLITICS Housing. Photo credit should read: Ian Nicholson/PA Wire

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BLACKPOOL will not be in the running for a Portas Pilot town title.

But the resort has been handed a £100,000 Government grant to help revitalise its town centre due to its number of vacant premises.

While town centre bosses say occupancy rates are not as bad as reports suggest, because they include outlying areas such as Central Drive, they have welcomed the cash boost which will be used to improve the high street.

A spokeswoman for Blackpool Council said: “We welcome the additional resources to help support our local shops in these tough times.

“We will be working with the local business community to ensure that we maximize the impact from these funds, in providing a boost to the local economy and supporting vital jobs.”

However, Blackpool will not be in the running for a share of the Government’s £1m pot of cash put up for town centre improvements after retail guru Mary Portas’ report on the future of high streets across the UK. Up to 12 winners will share the cash.

Wyre Council has lodged a joint bid for Fleetwood, Garstang, Cleveleys and Poulton.

And campaigners in Kirkham have lodged a bid for the Fylde market town.

However, with a number of initiatives already running in Blackpool, the authority felt it couldn’t dedicate enough officer time for a return that could be around the £80,000 mark.

The spokeswoman said Blackpool Council opted against making a bid – the deadline was last week – after looking at the finer detail.

The Portas Report states that shopping guru Ms Portas wants to see the, “heart put back into the high street,” after a swift demise thanks, in part, to out-of-town developments.

Her report sets out 28 steps to rejuvenate hard-hit shopping areas.

Grant Shapps (left), minister of state for communities and local government said: “I’m accepting virtually all of the recommendations from Mary Portas’s review.

“But I’m also going one step further, with a range of measures designed to help local people turn their High Streets into the beating hearts of their communities once again.”