12 Dec 2011

Illustrations by Dermot Flynn

I want to put the heart back into the centre of our High Streets, re-imagined as destinations for socialising, culture, health, wellbeing, creativity and learning. Places that will develop and sustain new and existing markets and businesses. The new High Streets won’t just be about selling goods. The mix will include shops but could also include housing, offices, sport, schools or other social, commercial and cultural enterprises and meeting places. They should become places where we go to engage with other people in our communities, where shopping is just one small part of a rich mix of activities.

High Streets must be ready to experiment, try new things, take risks and become destinations again. They need to be spaces and places that people want to be in. High Streets of the future must be a hub of the community that local people are proud of and want to protect.

My goal is to breathe economic and community life back into our High Streets and town centres. I want to see all our High Streets bustling with people, services, and jobs. They should be vibrant places that people choose to visit. They should be destinations. Anything less is a wasted opportunity.

Please read through my full report below, or click here for a summary of my 28 recommendations.

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I’d love to hear your feedback. Please leave a comment below.

12,703 Responses to “”

  1. I’ve read a few excellent stuff here. Definitely value bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how so much effort you place to make one of these fantastic informative site.

  2. Steven king says:

    Hi Mary I live in reading and most of the shops are being closed down peacocks as gone so has life and style and quite a few others I expect that reading will be forgotten about

  3. [...] The Portas report proposes little in the way of curbs on them. [...]

  4. Blair Robinson says:

    As Chris Whapple (above)says, the current city council in York, led by a Council leader who is only out to make a (bad) name for himself, is only interestted in driving any locals away from the centre, leaving it to the coach parties of tourists which block our foot streets.
    At a council meeting last Thursday they voted to close all city centre free parking (already severely limited by “footstreet hours” to evenings and Sunday mornings. At th esame time they are promoting a new shopping centre out of town with a very large M&S and John Lewis. The very next day they put up the edge of the city car park fees by nearly 20%, so the locals now pay £1.30 an hour!
    It’s cheaper to go to Leeds by bus and shop there!

  5. Hans Hartfiel says:

    I would like to know what you are smoking and where I can get some of the same. Anyone wanting to put market stalls on the High Street can’t be right in their head. I can get the crap the market stalls are selling much cheaper in shops like Poundland, Poundsaver or whatever those places are called.
    Despite all that, I have to admire you for making the nation aware of your overpriced clothing and underwear which is, probably, made in the Asia.

  6. WE NEED MARY!!!! WE NEED MARY!!!! WE NEED MARY!!!! We trade in a potentially fab street in Truro, the only City in Cornwall dying on its knees due to mismanagement of transport through the City centre. No one will sit up and start a timed delivery scheme, more markets, close streets. I have visionary ideas but apathy and indecisiveness rules. WE NEED MARY?????WE NEED MARY!!!! I NEED TO GET SOME H E L P !!!!

  7. Carlton Waghorn says:


    I have read on the front of my local newpaper that Crowborough in East Sussex has put in a nomination to completely pedestrianise the High Street in order to breathe new life into it. Perhaps a reduction in rates would provide more interest in the High Street. As present we have plenty of banks, building societys and estate agents. The artists impressions look great with people meandering about looking at market stalls. In essence these proposals with blight already congested local residential areas with diverted traffic from the town. Busses, lorries and cars will go past schools and beautifull village greens where a nursey school and large community church exist. A great proportion of traffic will be diverted down a traffic calmed residential street with speed bumps.

    Traffic calming – a long forgotten topic of the 90′s.

    Let’s build on lesson learned from previous decades rather that destroying them. I have nothing against those trying to rejuvenate high streets but not at the expense of local residents.

    I will be starting a local campaign and have sent a letter to my MP. I hope to get in shot with my placard whilst you make your TV programme should Crowborough create a winning bid!

  8. Sue Kemp says:

    I’m so pleased to see your recommendation for ‘Town Team’s’ and I hope not only that the government take up this suggestion but also give them teeth through legislation to enable them to meet their objectives for their town.
    My shop (which I only opened 3 months ago) is in a small town in Suffolk which used to have a small, but well used co-op supermarket. It was the only food shop serving the area within a 10 mile radius and was integral to the town. When the co-op applied for planning permission to build a larger, out-of town, store two miles away the local authority agreed provided the shop in town stayed open, which the co-op agreed to. No sooner had the new supermarket opened but the co-op shut the one in town. To add insult to injury, the co-op then sold the building with a condition in the contract that the shop could NOT be used or let as a food outlet. The shops in this part of town are now struggling and many have closed.
    These ‘big boys’ are killing our towns in more ways than one and I fully support your work Mary – let’s just hope that the government takes heed and doesn’t pay lip service to your suggestions but gives them real teeth.

  9. I have read a few excellent stuff here. Certainly price bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how a lot attempt you put to make one of these great informative website.

  10. michael emblem says:

    just read today’s daily mail
    I’m gutted…. I think you’re gorgeous!
    michael x

  11. Graeme says:

    Took ages but read the whole thing! Great review Mary, completely agree. Especially about small shops. Experience, service, specialism.

  12. [...] an independent review into the future of the high street.  In December 2011 she published “The Portas Review“, containing her 28 recommendations.   Number 27 being ‘Support imaginative community [...]

  13. tim dwelly says:

    Very much welcome the proposal for ‘work-shops’. Essentially these are workhubs on the high street. We are now looking to work with local authorities and others to deliver these. Only one comment woudl be that the mention of homeworkers coming on the high street shoud recognise that most workhubs are like gyms – you go when you need to. Some may work full time in the place but most will be members. That will be great news for the number of businesses using them and their ability to collaborate. Plus of course footfall for surroudning cafes and shops. I set up perhaps the first one of these in the UK hyst bheing the high street in Penzance: Digital Peninsula Network went from 12 freelancers to a workhub with 250 members. Contact me if you wnat to know more or wnat help doing this elsewhere. We are already looking to pilot this in Cornwall, Kent and Northumberland, to name a few. Great report Mary!

  14. [...] been an interested follower of the debate around town centres since the Portas review of last year, not least because I live close by to a small town, and indeed it’s one where a [...]

  15. [...] Jane Jacobs en su Death and life of great American cities, y que está en la base misma del Informe Portas sobre las calles comerciales que Manuel Gil cita en su [...]

  16. [...] website – under construction The Portas Review – download a pdf The Design Council – designing demand Rate this: ShareLike this:LikeBe the first to like [...]

  17. Margaret Campbell says:

    We are a community group who would like to set up a monthly farmers’ market. The idea has the widespread support of the community, producers and local independent retailers., but present legislation does not permit us to do this.

    In the borough, Market Rights are leased from the local council by a private company. The company have said that they would take legal action against us if we organise a monthly farmers market six and a half miles from them. The terms of the council’s lease would require them to join in the legal action against us.

    Within six and third miles of the market are there are eight large supermarkets, and these are open for a total of 26,348 hours per month. It seems clear that the main competition for the market is the presence of these large supermarkets, and it is unreasonable that legislation prevents the development of Farmers’ Markets in the area.

    This legislation dates from a different era. It takes no account of the social, economic and technological changes of the last seven hundred years.

    We asked the council to consider putting forward a submission under the Sustainable Communities Act for the legislation to be changed, but they said they were unable to do this because of a conflict of interest.

  18. Elizabeth Heath says:

    Delighted with Mary Portas’ review of the high street and with her recommendations on how to improve it. I should like to recommend further key improvements which I have been considering for a long while.
    Most town high streets have become very bland and standardised across the board with so little choice of products and services. Trying to find unique specialised items now is practically impossible. Our high streets are basically full of chain shops, chain food/drink outlets and bland markets. Town high streets rarely stand out from those in other towns. Products on sale rarely differ from those sold in other towns. No wonder people are shopping via the internet now. There is little to entice people to go to the high street now and why would you want to go to another town to shop when you know its high street will look and sell the same as your local one?
    At the same time we have thousands of students doing all sorts of art and craft, culinary and music based qualifications producing amazing, exciting and unique pieces of work (likewise adults at adult education classes and as a hobby). These talented people have so little opportunities to display and sell their hand crafted wares. What a waste of talent, training and opportunity for the country and at a local level too.
    Why don’t the local councils work with local business and colleges and set up in each of our town high streets shops/centres selling, displaying and showing LOCAL, REGIONAL talent. They could use shops/banks currently vacant. There could be a continuous round of exhibitions of work for sale lasting a number of weeks replaced by the next group of artists. Along side these exhibitions could be cafes, 2nd hand book shops, live music shows. This would give each town its own identity and culture and would attract outside visitors for the day. It would give non academic students and individuals of all backgrounds the chance to go into business, earn a living and grow in self pride and worth. The councils could reduce the rent on these centres to a peppercorn rate to encourage these ventures to grow and thrive. The venues could be run on a non profit making basis with any profits going back to the artists and to charities.
    Such a simple idea but how effective, beneficial and exciting the results could be.

  19. Anna Brook says:

    Hi Mary

    thank you for all the hard work you have done examinging the problems on our high streets. I’m a comittee member of our Local traders association here in Great Malvern, and we are just about to do battle with our district council tonight who are proposing to hike up the short stay parking charges here by 50%! i hope you don’t mind but we are using a few of your words to help put our argument across… unfortunatley the majority of our ‘decision makers’ dont even seem to know about your report!
    its all about revenue, and no-one seems to see the bigger picture, just so frustrating! if anyone out there would like to sign our online petition its on (just search for malvern) and we would love your support! thank you
    by the way Mary, look out for a portas pilot application… Great Malvern is working hard on ours, have our next meeting tommorrow, but all panicking about making a video!

  20. [...] UK Retail Guru, Mary Portas, who recently headed the review of Britains’ failing highstreets’, [...]

  21. Mark Hainge says:

    Dear Mary,

    You might be aware that Hay-on-Wye’s currently thriving high street and weekly market are under threat from plans to build a new supermarket in the town. There’s a lot of debate around this proposal, as you’d expect. The key quality the town would lose if a supermarket did get build is its ability to generate social capital.

    What’s social capital? Well, when the lady in the hardware shop trusts you to pay next time you come in (because you forgot your wallet), or the newspaper shop owner checks up to see if you’re OK when you don’t come in for your daily paper, that’s social capital at work. Research (see Robert D. Putnam’s book, “Bowing Alone: the Collapse and Revival of American Community” published by Simon and Schuster in 2000) has shown that individuals in groups with more social capital are better off on a number of measures, including health, happiness and earning potential than those from groups with less social capital. The same also applies to communities: crime rates, costs of doing business and economic growth are all better in those with higher social capital. This all helps to explain why Hay-on-Wye is such a great place to live.

    So what might happen if we get another supermarket in Hay? Most research suggests that it would be likely to force small shops out of business in the longer term. A proportion of self-employed artisans will follow, as they rely on local businesses for much of their work. In the worst case we’d end up with an empty town centre, with all the economic activity focused on the supermarket. There would be little to draw tourists to Hay and reduced numbers of tourists would impact on bookshops, pubs, hotels and B&Bs. Some incomers would decide to move away as the features that drew them here in the first place ceased to exist. And while we might have a bigger choice of goods, the supermarket profits would be returned to shareholders, not to local people, depressing Hay’s economy still further.

    So what? Well, the absence of small shops and businesses would reduce Hay’s ability to generate social capital – in simple terms, you just don’t get that same level of personal interaction from a supermarket shopping trip – and in consequence those who remain would not enjoy the same happy, healthy lifestyles that they do now. This for me is the single most compelling reason that all of us who value Hay-on-Wye should resist plans to build another supermarket in the town. I’m sure the logic holds true for a number of other small towns as well.

  22. ryan carter says:

    Dear Mary
    I own a specalist dancewear shop in Tameside Gt.Manchester. The rent and rates are well affordable.
    My problem arises from online shopping which I cant do anything about but my main problem is dancing teachers setting up shop in there classes and selling at big profits without overheads or insurance, taking away my trade and not before long my business, leaving another empty shop. Car parking is also a big issue.

  23. Iain MacLeod says:

    Dear Mary,

    It was with great interest that I read your recent report on the demise of many local shopping areas and I fully appreciate that you require to take, a macroeconomic view of the problem though I feel it is important to make a number of suggestions on both a micro and macro level.


    A major plank of your policy is the creation of a town team, no doubt not dissimilar to the management team that operate within shopping centres. Clearly this comes at a cost which the shopping centre is happy to bear whereas getting the approval from a large number of small retailers can more often than not prove impossible. In order to combat this I feel it would be worthy of consideration to operate similar to shopping centres where a contribution to the tenants association is compulsory within a designated “town team area”. This could be based on a small percentage of the rateable value and would be required to be paid by businesses large and small and also by the landlords of vacant premises.


    It is certainly the case that business rates are too high but I am sure that every business realises that they are a necessary evil. Tinkering with the headline rate will benefit businesses large and small, prospering and struggling. They therefore have to be targeted relief based on specific criteria that allow the rates to be varied to assist small businesses.

    It is my understanding that if a landlord was prepared to grant a period of occupation of his premises for a specific period at a substantially reduced rent the rates payable are still the rates associated with the full rateable value and this clearly impacts on the viability of many short term arrangements.

    The levels for rates relief should be reviewed dependant on type of property and should not be the same for office, industrial and retail premises. There should also be a view taken as to how long the council has forgone rates during the period that the property was empty.

    In my view a council with a high street that is in difficulty should carry out a simple calculation namely total rates payable if all properties were occupied divided by rates income from properties actually occupied. This will show the potential income the council could generate from a successful high street however it would also show that incremental increases based on creative rate reduction policy can help stimulate new businesses entering the market.


    Landlords operate in a very difficult market as I am sure you will appreciate, many are institutions or property funds that operate very much on a yield basis and especially in the current economic climate many have to seek approval from their lender before entering into a lease agreement. They are therefore somewhat hamstrung in that if they enter in to a long term lease at a substantially reduced rental this can have a dramatic effect on their asset value.

    Therefore landlords have to be encouraged to nurture new businesses and new tenants by offering innovative rental package such as:

    Break Options: All new tenants with less than four retail premises should be allowed a tenant only break option at any time during the first year of occupancy. This would give new businesses the opportunity to try and establish a business without the pressure of being liable for future rents for anything from 5 to 25 years.

    Capital Contributions: The culture of landlords giving significant capital contributions towards shop fit-outs has almost completely come to an end, however, landlords should be encouraged to install basic services into shell units and also consider specific assistance to new businesses such as installation of toilets, shop fronts etc., where this would benefit their property. I am totally against any contribution by way of cash as this can often skew the tenants view on the viability of their project.

    Personal Guarantees: Landlords should also be unable to demand a personal guarantee from potential tenants as this can severely discourage new entrants as not only is initial capital at risk but also significant personal exposure for years to come.

    Dilapidations: Another hidden cost to embryonic retailers is the potential of signification dilapidation costs when the premises are vacated. This is clearly another revenue generating opportunity for the landlord and a significant additional potential cost to the retailer trying to establish a new business.

    Vacant Properties: At present most vacant properties are simply marketed by way of floor space. The information available to the prospective tenant online is very basic. Property agents should be encouraged to provide more information on the property for let especially if it is fitted out for a particular use, hairdresser, butcher etc., by allowing the prospective tenant to obtain this information they maybe steered towards a particular property as they could save the cost of additional plumbing, cold room in respect of the above examples.

    Letting Agents: It is my strongly held view that letting agents can cause bottle necks when it comes to bringing a property back in to use. Clearly their motivation is fee generation and this can often be compromised by a creative rental structure. A 25 year lease at £25,000 per annum would generate a fee of circa £6,000 whereas a one year license agreement with a new innovative retailer, especially if there is a rent free period or reduced rental, would generate a few hundred pounds. It is clearly therefore not in the interest of the letting agent to promote these sort of deals to the landlord. An agent sees vacant properties as their stock and to dispose of it at a discount is potential income lost.


    It is also true that if a High Street operated as one business there could be significant savings in purchasing items such as refuse collection, power as well as other goods and services that most businesses utilise. It is clearly possible to approach suppliers to become the preferred provider to a particular area and generate economy of scale savings. This would also provide additional benefit in the case of refuge collection in that the collections would take place on the same day for the whole area rather than is currently the case where three or four providers come at different times and the area permanently has rubbish awaiting collection.


    It is probably this area where a combined effort by way of a combined web presence, group mailings, community events etc., can have the most effect rather than the fragmented approach that currently exists.


    Landlords should be encouraged to enter into agreements with companies wishing to operate “Mini Malls” These are spaces for a number of non competing retailers and service providers to operate under the one roof and sharing the overheads accordingly. To date these have tended to be more associated with market type operations rather than the concession type offers within major high street department stores.


    Rate departments should be encouraged to be more proactive in providing information before a business takes occupancy of premises. At present it is my experience that they are unwilling to provide any guidance whatsoever and expect the tenant or entrepreneurs to take on a rental agreement before being fully aware as to the potential rates liability. Items such as a simple sub division/multiple occupiers, making use of the window space within vacant properties which could bring life back into the high street need clarification as it is difficult to plan appropriately without detailed financial information on the rates liability.


    It appears inherently unfair that the VAT threshold for all businesses is the same. Where a business is providing a service that does not require premises, Window Cleaner, Gardener, etc. they are able to generate £73,000 of income before subjecting their customer to VAT. Even some businesses that have to incur property costs such as Solicitors, Estate Agents, Hairdressers etc., can still generate £73,000 before they need to charge VAT. In effect even with premises expenses these businesses could generate a significant income for the proprietor without the need to charge VAT.

    The retailer on the other hand has not only the need for premises but also operates on a margin between 20% and 100% in general thus on an income of £73,000 less premises expenses for example £15,000 and cost of sales at the best £37,000 they are left with only £21,000 to cover labour costs etc.

    Therefore it would be a fairer system to vary the VAT threshold dependant on the business type similar to the way HMRC have simplified the VAT return for small businesses dependant on their business type by using the VAT Flat Rate Scheme.

  24. Pauline says:

    I fully support the initiative to get people back to using High Street shops. However, I do feel that Councils need to look at car parking charges. One of the reasons I don’t go into my town to shop is due to high car parking charges. We try and save the pennies here and there by shopping around and then have to pay £7.00 to get our car out of the car park. Many stores allow you to shop online with free delivery and free returns – why would you bother paying parking charges if this option is on offer. Just this week I decided to go into town to have a wander around the shops but mainly to shop in Poundland to save some money. The money I saved in the store was wasted on the £3.00 car parking fee and I had been in town less than 2 hours. Best wishes with your plans. P

  25. Bert Biscoe says:

    Truro, Kernow
    16th february 2012

    Dear Mary Portas,

    Thanks for your very helpful Review. It is helping Truro to defend itself from a nonsensical application by Waitrose (in cahoots with the Duchy of Cornwall) to build an out of town supermarket on productive arable land (that also defines Truro’s rural boundary) in the middle of a park and ride caar park – don’t ask how park and ride and a supermarket can achieve, between them, any change in traffic congestion – highways engineers splutter in to their coffee if you dare to enquire!

    I’m a member of Cornwall Council representing Truro. One of the most telling moments for me in the life of Truro town centre has been to find myself confronted (and I mean that!) by the Transport Authority wishing to develop a park and ride scheme. The aims, as stated at the time (but which have become very fluid as time has passed and new schemes need to be justified!), were to reduce commuter parking in the centre, freeing up parking spaces for customers, clients and visitors, and to reduce the volume of complaints about commuter parking in residential streets.

    We ended up with three key impacts that, taken together, amount to a rank unwillingness by transport project developers to take into consideration their responsibility to contyribute to estalishing conditions conducive to trade –

    1. We have a park and ride drop-off point stuck in the middle of River Street (a secondary street which includes many of our brand defining small independent shops and the Royal Cornwall Museum (the latter has benfefitted whilst enjoying free entry by unprecendented demand for its toilets! God knows how the bladders of Truro’s customers will cope with Museum Entrance Fees).

    2. A substantial reorganisation of Victoria Square (which includes Malletts Hardware store – an emblem of Truro – which has ‘transformed’ a dowdy square (which had some quick-stop parking in the middle) into a crowded, polluted, pedestrian unfriendly bus interchange –

    3. An almost constant stream of buses trundling (actually ‘thundling’ would be a beeter desicription – a blend of thundering and trundling!) through the Conservation Area (Boscawen Street’s cobbles are now the biggest source of complaint from disabled people, and the customer cohort is ageing!) with damage to Georgian and early Victorian fabric, an increase in traffic speed and (because the council botched the bus station) bus stops populated by some vehicles whose drivers are on ‘tacho’ breaks!

    The lesson – I was hoping you’d recommend to the Department of Transport that, in addressing issues of town centre traffic management, it must be an over-riding concern to achieve conditions which, in the estimation of traders, are conducive to trade. Its as big an issue as the lack of specific guidance in the NPPF.

    Longer term, Truro, uniquely, has a real opportunity to shift much of its traffic generating hourneys on to the railway – some positive encouragement to Network Rail and HMG to encourage that to happen would be very helpful. We spend too much time spending millions shaving five minutes off trips to Paddington and ensuring that mobile phones work in Taunton station, and not enough moving people about locally on trains – Beeching’s legacy is not irremediable.

    Best wishes

  26. I run a business in Rossendale, Lancashire, in fact I am a market trader on Rawtenstall Market. I believe you intend to visit Rawtenstall in the near future. I have been informed that you are to suggest a ‘market’ on the proposed Town Square that is yet to be developed.
    I hope you are aware that we already have a market, which is open for two days a week, and what we do not need is another, it would make more sense to teach our pathetic council how to advertise for new traders to come onto our existing market and fill our empty stalls, and to take an interest in improving the image of our market, a darn good clean would not go amiss, I take great pride in the appearance and image of my business, pity our council don’t do the same, they seem to regard our market as a liability rather than a business, we would welcome you to our market, but would oppose the suggestion of another, and hope the rumours are untrue, these are very worrying times as it is without this as an added worry!!!

  27. Paul The Builder says:

    I feel shops are not serving customs well .If you are tall over 6 foot you go out to work with t-shirts to small and show the world your builders bum . I go shopping in town to hunt down longer clothing. if you ask staff most cant help. My fashion is limted you can get long trousers but not a shirt that fits . Sell things people need ,Get staff trained to help, make shopping fun.

  28. Heather Wilson says:

    Thank you for all that you have done for the shopkeepers of this country and continue to do.

  29. Heather Wilson says:

    I live in Lancing, West Sussex. We have empty shops because the landlords set the rents too high so they stay empty bringing in no income! We have wonderful shopkeepers who keep trying new ideas to continue trading. The service is as good if you buy something cheap as when you spend far more. Shopkeepers ask customers what they would like them to stock. We no longer have a health shop, or a shoe shop. The shop keepers are friendly. We holiday-let our home while we care for an elderly parent and all of our guests comment on how friendly the shopkeepers are. I came from the Isle of Wight and was terrified of the mainland. I have been here nearly 40 years and feel that I belong here and want to stay here. Our shopkeepers need help and will hard work together to make any scheme work. Please help us.

  30. Extremely interesting thank you, I do believe your current readers could perhaps want a lot more reviews along these lines continue the excellent effort.

  31. [...] and host of TV’s Queen of Shops“, to look into the future of the High Street. The Portas Review, published in December, “made 28 recommendations including “town teams” to lead [...]

  32. Prescot Town Centre, Knowsley, Merseyside
    Look to the Future | Celebrate the Past

    “People used to say – Liverpool near Prescot – you know” Jim, a proud Prescotian, told me on one of my earlier visits. “…Oh aye – Prescot was a thriving manufacturing and trading town when ‘it’ was still a little fishing village around the tidal pool.”

    Many people believe that Prescot is a sleeping giant and has the potential to become a focus and ‘jewel-in-the-crown’ of this wider Merseyside sub region. It is well placed to provide a new focus for creative and cultural activity that can benefit the wider Merseyside/West Lancashire sub region by complimenting and re-working its inter-relationship with its traditional trading partner – Liverpool.

    Knowsley was created in 1974 by the merger of a number of urban and rural district councils. However the towns and villages that form this place have ancient roots and a rich heritage.
    It is a Metropolitan Borough of Merseyside, however some communities still retain strong affinities with Lancashire as much as Liverpool. This is reflected in the diverse cultural traditions and identities to be discovered as well as the variety of accents encountered. Local people are proud of their local identity – none more so than Prescotians…

    Prescot’s past is without doubt one of its key strengths as it looks to the future. The history and heritage assets of Knowsley Borough based here are yet to be fully harnessed as a catalyst for encouraging new learning opportunities, employment and economic development. However, this is changing the community and other key partners have begun a voyage of re-discovery and re-presentation.

    The first steps of what will be a very long and difficult journey have included projects introducing young people to the traditional building and crafts skills of their forefathers linked with today’s restoration opportunities; older residents brought Prescot and wider Knowsley stories and archives to life for young children – enhancing understanding and promoting a heightened sense of belonging; memories and conversations were captured and presented to a wider public using creative public art works. At the heart of this grass roots-led renewal is a pop-up museum on historic Eccleston Street run by local volunteers over the last 18 months.

    Prescot is a rich and diverse place. Its ancient and more recent history is both complex and fascinating. The old town is gaining in confidence. Although the community faces many challenges – there is a palpable sense of local pride and a re-awakening of the ethos and culture that underpins this place – high skills, fine manufacturing and creative entrepreneurship.

    You are welcome and have a look. On a bad day it is difficult to see past the end of your nose – on a good day you can see the future!

  33. Alan Jones says:

    Well done for putting this initiative together..

    During the early nineties we ran a successful market stall at St Albans in Hertfordshire, I believe that the reason some of this was down to the affluence of the town but also in part that the market ran alongside existing shops and businesses, this area was completely car free and encouraged browsing and casual purchases, it also benefitted the established businesses. I currently live in Enfield and although the market there has been established for hundreds of years its still in the same footprint of a square, the long one way high street is dominated by car and other traffic travelling at great speed, I cant help thinking that the council is wasting an opportunity to ban cars from the high street for one day on Saturdays and encourage more market stalls to be set up along its length and encourage a safer walking environment, most of the traffic flowing through the high street is just that – passing through, I really like the idea of what has happened recently in Exhibition Road in London where the cars don’t automatically have the right to be there. Our council has also recently introduced Sunday parking charges where it was free for years previously, this is very shortsighted and will only do more harm to the town of Enfield, they have also sold off two outdoor car parking areas situated conveniently for shoppers, the councils argument is that the people should use the multi story car park but this is often not easy to use if all you need to do is pop into a few shops.

  34. Hi Mary and the team
    I run a small specialist gift shop in Wincanton, Somerset and having recently moved to the area and joined the local Wincanton Business together I am tasked with trying to put some heart and soul back into the town. Your review has provided a fantastic blueprint to build from and I fully intend to try and encourage a ‘Market day’ in the town. It is the all too familiar chicken and egg situation, small shops open, shoppers don’t come to the town, small shop closes, people go elsewhere because there is not enough shops!!!
    Sadly one of the main thorn in our side is the unhelpful and uncooperative nature of Morrisons supermarket, who are on the edge of town and do nothing to try and help the plight of the high Street. However I am undeterred and intend to try to work with them as much as possible.

  35. [...] – well publicised in the media – about the future of our High Streets and Town Centres. The Portas Review comments about the change in the retail landscape – particularly the development of online [...]

  36. [...] – well publicised in the media – about the future of our High Street and Town Centres. The Portas Review comments about the change in the retail landscape – particularly the development of online [...]

  37. [...] subject here). The group talked through some of the issues which have been thrown into focus during The Portas Review such as competing with out of town shopping, retail that’s geared to the needs of local [...]

  38. Mary you said ‘in an industry at risk of extinction surely it’s time to do things differently’…….this is why 6 years ago in Forres and Elgin, 2 small towns in Moray in the north of Scotland, we rebranded our 2 Independent Travel Agency shops and incorporated a Travel Cafe and gift shop. This has done amazing things for our sale of holidays – travel sales up by 54% in the first year, and still rising!

  39. Teresa Summers says:

    I have an idea for a new shop concept. Take large firms that don’t want the overheads of high street shops, like HMV (music) Waterstones (books) B&Q (DIY) Smyths (toys) and Mothercare (kids clothes), get them to invest together in an extra company to form a new shop, a sort of super-Woolworths, share the overheads and open new stores in all the High Streets. Would attract loads of new customers, which would in turn encourage someone like M&S to open next door, and so on.

  40. [...] now have a rare chance to change that. Mary Portas recently conducted an independent review of high streets. One of her recommendations was that betting shops be put into a separate [...]

  41. [...] chairman of fashion retailer New Look, Phil Wrigley, has rejected the conclusions of the Mary Portas High Street Review, saying the Queen of Shops had the “right diagnosis, wrong [...]

  42. jobs for high school students – Search for Jobs on our website, we offer several great links to the finest and biggest Portals to acquiring a Job as a high school student!

  43. [...] an independent review into the state of UK’s high streets and town centres. This resulted in the Portas Review  which states that innovative ideas are part of the solution to the increase in empty [...]

  44. Having now had a chance to read through your report, there is a lot I entirly agree with and well done. However, I cant help feeling that one important issue has not been addressed , which affects all traders but especially retailers, who can`t simply go on a three day week and reduce thier overheads, This is the taxation burden we all have to bare. Despite our best efforts, my shop may not survive the downturn much longer and could become another High Street casualty. The main reasson will not be just the slowdown but the tax liability which builds up even when trade is slow. Our combined tax bill, bares no relationship to profit, turnover or means to pay. I am surprised that this did not come up in your findings. Tax at this time of the year, is particularly topical for the self employed. The small circle of self employed aquantances I have spoken to in the last few days, has revealed that more than half are unable to pay on time. As it is very often the H M R C which finaly pulls the plug on buisnesess, I`m sure this has a lot to do with creating empty shops. If they not are actualy forced out of buisness then hanging on just becomes untenable. There does not seem to be any safety valve in out complex tax system to allow a breathing space whilst thing pick up. Perhaps Grant Shapps could also take this on board, when responding in the Spring.

  45. [...] “I forgot you were here”. 4 steps to make sure you never hear these words again Dec 13, 11 3:51 PM Author interacter Categories Marketing Strategy Tags customer, feedback, high street, marketing strategy, Mary portas, portas review, retail, small business, SME You should never hear a customer say “Why didn’t I come here first?”. If you do, you know that your marketing strategy really isn’t working… Today has seen a huge amount of debate about the state of the UK High Street, prompted by the release of the Portas Review. [...]

  46. Firstly Great report. In my humble opinion there is so much that some retailers are doing through smart use of retail display & merchandising currently to encourage footfall and improve engagment with their customers. This entirely depends on the outlook and how accepting to new approaches the business in question is. One of the main issues is that this can be a costly excersise for a botique retailer with a modest estate so sometimes it only becomes really cost effective for large quantities.

  47. Mary, have you been to Rickmansworth High Street in a while? That needs some help! Let’s hope your advice is taken on board and it works. Good luck – as for the lady who thinks queuing isn’t “clinical depression” where do you shop? I hate queuing and believe Mary is right. I’m sure the ques up Bond Street aren’t as bad as those up the high street? I’m please Mary is keeping it real!

  48. M says:


    Have YOU ever been CLINICALLY DEPRESSED? You used this term to describe your experience of waiting in a queue of 25 people in your TV programme ‘Secret Shopper’.

    If you have indeed experienced the condition it is pretty apalling you so lightly use this term in fling-away comments like QUEUES in shops. If ypu have never experienced this mental illness, you’re very blessed but should NOT be using medical conditions to describe mundane everyday events. EVEN as a metaphor, it is incredibly offensive to sufferers of this illness.

    CLINICAL DEPRESSION can lead people to SUICIDE – queuing in a high street fashion store CANNOT.

    So please, keep things in perspective.

    his illness can lead people

  49. allkan razey says:

    A Pity you cannot speak face to face with those who supposedly organise the Trinity Market in Hull, who issue pages of rules and regulations, then do security checks, financial checks, keep you waiting for months to know if your application was accepted.
    Many stalls remain closed as delays inhibit new traders to accept such impediments, rules and regulations.
    The Council lose money with empty stalls.
    My contract, applied for in August was issued in December. Now Just about February and I have not yet had a correct bill for the past six months.
    In private hands, on behalf of the Hull City Council, the company appear disinterested, do no advertising, do not visit the stalls and are lethargic in many ways – for example – following a number of letters over December and January – not even any acknowledgement let alone answers !!
    Please Mary, come to Kingston upon HULL

  50. I own a restraunt in York which is a vibrant City largely due to its heritage. However, the Council favours out of town retail/ business parks and promotes them to the detrement of City traders. Recently the Council tried to sell the coach/ car park to move the facility ot a retail park saying that some trading casulties would be inevitable hence loss of valuable jobs. I suggest that parking at retail parks should be chargeable to generate income for the town centres. Also if town centre businesses continue to close the properties will fall into disrepair and eventually will be lost forever. No doubt derelict shops will be replaced with housing but who wants to live in a ghost town?

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