Daily Archives: February 14, 2013

Jim Pickard

Cynics have long worried that the “Mary Portas Review” of the high street, commissioned by the government, was largely a PR exercise. I pointed out last autumn that there were concerns that the review’s recommendations were just a drop in the ocean compared to the wider global trends forcing the closure of countless retail chains.

And now it has emerged that eight months after £1.1million was awarded to the first wave of Portas Pilots – to “kick start a renaissance” in town centres -only 12 per cent of the money has been spent.

The figure emerged from an Foi request by Paul Turner Mitchell, a retail commentator and fashion boutique owner. This suggests that only £136,000 has been spent so far with some pilots having spent none of the funding allocated.

Some of this has gone towards DCLG meetings, project co-ordinator salaries, charges for 

Jim Pickard

By Beth Rigby

Pro-European Conservatives have set up a group to press the case for Britain’s place in Europe in an attempt to redress the party’s rabid euroscepticism.

The Mainstream Conservatives, led by Laura Sandys, will campaign for a “Yes” vote to membership of the European Union in a future referendum and will also offer a pro-European perspective on issues spanning trade and investment, the environment and justice.

A dozen MPs, including former cabinet ministers Stephen Dorrell and Caroline Spelman, have put themselves forward as spokespeople.

The new group will act as a counterpoint to the Fresh Start Group, led by Andrea