DEWSBURY heavyweights are backing the call for Mary ‘Queen of Shops’ Portas to visit the town.
Last week the Reporter wrote to the television retail expert, after she was recently asked by Prime Minister David Cameron to investigate Britain’s troubled high streets.
Ms Portas, who will travel to a number of towns to host events and speak to shop owners and customers, has also been invited here by councillors and Dewsbury and Mirfield MP Simon Reevell.
Coun Paul Kane (Lab, Dews East), who originally suggested inviting Ms Portas, has been working on an letter to her with council leader Coun Mehboob Khan. He also approached Mr Reevell for backing.
Coun Kane said: “It’s not great in Dewsbury but when you look at some other towns, it could be worse. We’ve had seven new shops but we still need somebody with her expertise and knowledge. She is second to none in her field.”
Mr Reevell’s letter to Ms Portas said: “Since the decline of Dewsbury’s traditional industry, the town centre has declined. Marks and Spencer left a couple of years ago and I am currently trying to persuade WHSmith to stay.”
The MP said he would be delighted to show Ms Portas around Dewsbury.
Members of Dewsbury’s retail forum have also backed the idea.
Wendy White, manager of Boots, said: “I think there’s nothing to lose. It’s a fantastic idea. I think she would be taken by surprise at some of the positivity she gets from customers, which is what we find.”
Carol McCormack, manager of Superdrug, also added her support.
She said. “We could get some fantastic publicity for the town and maybe some good ideas too.”
Ms Portas’ review for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will be published in the autumn.
Mr Reevell said: “I’m delighted that the government has launched this review and I hope that Ms Portas will come to Dewsbury so that she can see for herself the sort of problems that need to be tackled.”
Town centre manager Andrew Sloman said: “I think the insight and support from somebody with Mary Portas’ experience would be invaluable for any town and I hope that the application to invite her is successful.”
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