Retail guru Mary Portas says Market Rasen project is among her top three
Retail guru Mary Portas says a project to rejuvenate Market Rasen's ailing town centre is among her top three in the country.
The self-styled 'Mary, Queen of Shops' made the declaration as she assessed the progress of the multi-million pound regeneration programme.
The Government's expert toured the revitalised Market Place and visited shops including Market Rasen Business Improvement Group's Green's grocery and local produce store. And volunteers who convinced her to make the town one of only 12 to receive £100,000 investment last May made a massive impression.
She arrived in the middle of a community arts programme which has seen public buildings and empty shop fronts turned into living art galleries.
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"I would definitely put Market Rasen in the top three of the pilot towns I've visited since last summer," she said.
"The team has made extraordinarily brilliant use of the money with a stand-out programme of both sophistication and commitment.
"They've been getting up early to help to put up market stalls, they've painted and decorated vacant shops to bring them back to life.
"Constantly working towards their aim of a healthy and vibrant High Street, they've shown lots of impressive behaviour.
"By regenerating the market they've increased footfall and now the priority is to create a destination by improving both ends of the high street.
"We look at Market Rasen now and see that there is a clear vision of the right mix in the High Street.
"Most businesses take at least three years to achieve what Mr Big have in just over six months.
"But they need help now both from local people and the councils."
Green's assistant manager Danny Bates said Ms Portas was impressed with a gift from their produce – a cheese, ham and an onion marmalade quiche.
"She thought the shop was outstanding and she was really happy with the selection of goods – she saw we're really trying," he said.
The project to rejuvenate Market Rasen is part of a scheme by Prime Minister David Cameron to inject life into a dozen ailing and failing shopping areas.
Portas was given the task and West Lindsey District Council leader Burt Keimach – who represents the town – was proud of their achievements.
"I think the improvements in the town prove that they're doing very well," said Cllr Keimach who attended a meeting with Ms Portas and the Mr Big team.
''All credit to them.''