Page 5 - MarketTimesFebruary2013
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   Dover has forged ahead with plans for a new market, which was a central plank of its failed bid to become a Portas pilot town. Bluebird Market was launched in November and, although it is early days, there are signs that this new venture has wings. NICOLA GOULD reports
Down-at-heel Dover had high hopes of success when it submitted an ambitious proposal to become a Mary Portas pilot town and gain the £100,000 investment that went with it. The imaginative proposal presented an ingenious solution to the town’s big challenge.
Thirteen million people pass through Dover every year to take the ferry to the continent. Cruise ships also use the port. Dover boasts an attractive seafront. There are the famous white cliffs (which inspired Dame Vera Lynn to sing
about bluebirds flying over), and Dover Castle is one of the UK’s top ten visitor attractions.
Yet despite the vast numbers who pass through Dover or visit its tourist attractions, the town centre is run-down and desperate for more footfall.
A group of local business people realised that the Portas initiative offered a chance for much needed investment to regenerate the town centre. Their bid envisaged a ‘Bluebird trail’, which would signpost visitors from one tourist hot spot to another, with a new market in
Market Square providing an anchor town centre attraction.
The bad news is that the bid was unsuccessful. The good news is that the town team formed to make the bid is pressing ahead with efforts to revitalise the ailing town centre. And the market, which was the cornerstone of the proposals, is up and running.
David Little, a printer and town team member, told Market Times that the team had tapped into a deep seam of support for improvements, including a new market. More than 350 local
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