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Council pledges to revamp Broadway

Council leader Ann Ducker

Council leader Ann Ducker

First published in News Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Didcot and Wallingford. Call me on 01865 425425

A COUNCIL leader has pledged to revamp Broadway in Didcot if a bid for cash from retail guru Mary Portas is turned down.

The shops expert has linked up with Local Government Minister Grant Schapps to give 12 towns a share of £1m to turn around their ‘unloved and unused’ high streets.

Didcot is the South Oxfordshire town in the running.

South Oxfordshire District Council bosses fear Broadway could be overshadowed by the £125m second phase of the Orchard shopping centre, due to open in 2014.

And to try to ensure shoppers do not abandon the street, council leaders bid for £74,000 of Portas Pilot funding.

If the bid is successful, the funding will be matched locally with £68,000.

But council leader Ann Ducker said she was determined the scheme for pop-up shops, new seating, town centre maps and signs and lamp post banners, would go ahead even without Portas funding.

She said the council would provide additional cash if necessary.

She added: “There’s a real commitment to carry out this work because we want to make sure that independent shops in Broadway will be able to survive.”

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Mrs Ducker made the pledge following a meeting of civic leaders last Wednesday when projects to improve Broadway were discussed.

The council team which put the Portas bid together will not hear if it has been successful until next month.

SODC spokesman Ben Makin said: “Rather than do nothing while they wait, it was agreed that the team should ask the Didcot Access Group to carry out a survey of Broadway, to identify how any Government funding could be used to improve seating and other features that will help people with disabilities and older people.

“The team also agreed that it would be good to have a pop-up shop on Broadway and South Oxfordshire District Council officers have been asked to look at the feasibility of opening a pop-up shop.”

Town council leader Margaret Davies, who attended the meeting, said: “Work to improve Broadway needs to be done as soon as possible – it is not right to rely on the Mary Portas cash.”

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