My journey visiting High Streets across the UK started in earnest 2 years ago when the Government asked me to look at our High Streets and provide an independent review on their future.
I took on this challenge in the full knowledge that it would be complicated and controversial, because I believe our high streets are worth fighting for. 7 months later, the Portas Review was published in December 2011. Read it here.
Since then, the Government announced funding for Pilot towns to put my 28-point recommendations into action. Over 400 Towns applied, and the Government selected 27 of these to become “Portas Pilots”.
My new show “Mary Queen of the High Street” is on Channel 4 at 9pm on Tuesdays weekly from 7th May 2013 (for 3 weeks). It documents my observations in three towns across the UK as they tried to tackle rising parking charges, out-of-town supermarkets and take on the competition of the internet.
If you watch the show, I hope it will inspire you to get involved in your High Street. If it does, but you don’t know where to start, my scrapbook has some good links: click here. I’ll be adding to this as the series progresses so make sure you check back in over the next month.
And finally, I’ve been astounded by the daily (and hourly) messages I get from people, towns and communities all around the country who are doing their bit to save their high street, often led by volunteers who never fail to impress me with their dedication and resilience. There’s a whole army of people out there who could challenge me for the crown “Queen of the High Street” so I’d like you to nominate the person you think is your High Street Champion for my award with the Telegraph. Read more here.
We’ll never have back the high streets of old, nor should we, but with creative reimagination, policy change from Government and a society who knows the value of their high street, I am hopeful for the high street of our future.