Television personality and High Street campaigner Mary Portas visited Bedford today to see take a look at our town centre.
Bedford Town Centre was given £51,000 to improve its High Street after being named as one of the 12 Portas Towns across the UK that secured funding of £1.2million in total.
The retailer guru attended a meeting, held at The Swan Hotel, with Parliament Under Secretary Of State at the Department of Communities and Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis.
The meeting, with other industry leaders, was the first meeting of the National Retail Planning Forum that was set up to ensure there was the infrastructure in place to carry out the Portas projects.
Following the meeting the well-know face of retail walked along the High Street visiting various businesses who are involved in the Town Team - set up to facilitate the Portas Scheme - or the project,
She first stopped off at La Piazza in the Market Square where she ordered a coffee. She then went onto visit Bedford Learning Centre, The Banker’s Draft pub, The Kiln, Brooks Salon and Wilkinsons, before heading back to The Swan Hotel.
While in Bedford Learning Centre she explained to us why the Portas Project is so important.
She said: “Bedford has a pretty buzzing town centre. The Town Team has a real vision for what it wants to achieve, which is a good thing.”
She added: “Apart from Bedford being quite beautiful - it has the glorious river running through it - it seems to be very united. “There are towns that not very aligned.”
Talking about what the High Street has to offer, she said: “You might not have had somewhere like this (Bedford Learning Centre) ten years ago, or even five years.
“Its not just about retail. We need to think about what are the reasons for people not going into town.”
And talking about the Town Team she said: “What the Town Team is doing is working together with all the stakeholders, and everyone is a stakeholder, and they should all have a say about what happens to the heartbeat of their community.”