Portas Pilot could focus on Lincoln’s markets

— Update: The City Council approved the bid

Lincoln’s various markets could see a drastic improvement from a national scheme to boost the city centre, if approved at an Executive Meeting next week.

Lincoln could be one of 12 locations set to benefit from the Portas Pilot by High Street expert Mary Portas (pictured).

If approved, it will mean the city is provided with funding to revitalise the main shopping area.

The pilot was set up after Portas reviewed the state of the UK’s High Street, and presented a number of recommendations for improvement.

In Lincoln the main focus of the pilot could be to work on the various markets held throughout the year.

As well as the permanent indoor markets run by the City Council and Lincolnshire Co-op in Cornhill and the Christmas Market, Lincoln BIG hosts a number of markets.

The Portas Pilot includes setting up a National Market Day to boost potential entrepreneurs to establish low-cost business start-ups, as well as making the most of public spaces.

The City of Lincoln Council will team up with Lincoln BIG to both set up a Town Team to look at the “long-term vision” of the city centre, and then create a marketing strategy.

Lincoln BIG would be the lead organisation in the pilot, while the City Council would be the body accountable for the funding.

The strategy would involve creating a brand and promote the Lincoln markets, give business advice to traders, develop new markets in different areas, weekly market days and even apprenticeship schemes.

Once approved by the Executive, the council will then have to bid to be added to the pilot.

Councillor Neil Murray said: “The Portas Review showed that a lot can be done to help Britain’s high streets to recover from the economic downturn, and we believe Lincoln is well placed to do something very positive if it became one of the Portas Pilots.

“Importantly, market stalls provide a great opportunity to start-up businesses, as well as being interesting and lively places to shop.

“From specialist events, like the farmers markets, to the permanent market stalls we have in the Sincil Street area, everyone can find something for them at a market, and we hope that visitors would be encouraged into the city centre to visit the markets as part of this work.”

Chief Executive of Lincoln BIG Matt Corrigan said: “Our markets are one of our great strengths, the Christmas Market is world famous and we have one of the best quality farmers markets in the country, as well as almost 100 other outdoor market days.

“By joining forces with our established indoor markets, we can invest in these to create a strategy that gives all year round buzz and atmosphere to the city centre.”

The public Executive Meeting where the Portas Pilot will be in consideration will be held on March 26 at City Hall, Committee Rooms 2 and 3.

Source: City of Lincoln Council