Town set to aim high for grant aid

AN ambitious bid for Amble to share a slice of £1million funding for town improvements could be submitted.

Amble Business Club is keen to draw up an application to apply to become one of 12 towns across the country to be selected as a Portas Pilot – a scheme set up by retail guru Mary Portas and the Government to reinvest in high streets.

Each location chosen would receive up to £100,000 and advice from Ms Portas and a team of retail experts. A number of ideas has been suggested for an Amble submission, including a heritage shop-front painting scheme or something which focuses on the town’s history.

Speaking at last Wednesday’s business club meeting, chairman Colin Harris said: “It is about finding a cunning plan that will enable us to spend a little bit of money which will have a big impact on the town or an aspect of the town.

“It might be a case of thinking about everything or a few things that we could apply for which would be a benefit for everybody, be worthwhile doing and would not be a white elephant.”

Julia Aston, from Amble Development Trust, believes that any bid made would need to stand out from the crowd.

“What are we going to do to capture the imagination? We can create lots of things that make a difference but we need to come up with that one hook that captures the imagination,” she said.

The business club decided to look at a potential application after Paul Black, from Shades of Black, gave a presentation about the Mary Portas scheme during last week’s meeting. He encouraged the club to apply.

“I would go for it,” he said. “Even if you don’t get it, the process would be really useful and using the impetus of having to get a big idea together might be really useful.”

Members of the business club were due to meet yesterday to thrash out ideas for the application and to decide what the pitch would be.

Mr Harris said that Northumberland County Council was prepared to be the accountable body for any bid, but the authority wants to see the application, which will need to include a video explaining why Amble should be selected, by next Friday.

Amble Town Council has also said it will support any application.

The final deadline for submissions for the Portas Pilot scheme is March 30.