"Formby, Crosby and Maghull all bid unsuccessfully for the Portas cash. Sefton’s Labour Council wants to help its town centres given the scale of cuts to local government. Will the minister tell me how he is going to make sure town centres are revitalised and tell me what support will be available to help?"
Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson this week challenged the government to detail how it plans to help revitalise town centres in Sefton who failed in their bid to win a share of Mary Portas' funding.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Bill asked the Secretary of State for Communities Eric Pickles:
Bill said the Tory-Lib Dem government had essentially washed its hands of the town centres which hadn't been successful in the Portas bid which he called nothing more than a publicity stunt.
Bill said: "The Portas Bid scheme was far too small to have any considerable impact on improving our town centres. It was a gimmick designed more at grabbing a headline than improving the fortunes of our town centres..
"The scheme had a cash pot of of just over £1million to be shared between 12 successful bidders. That is not enough to make any discernible impact in turning around the fortunes of our struggling town centres up and down the country.
"But worse, the government now appears to have washed its hands of those town centres that worked hard to put together bids, but which weren't selected to take a share of the fund.
"It is not good enough for the Communities Secretary and the Tory-Lib Dem Government to chase a headline at the expense of our hundreds of ailing town centres.
"Closer to home, i saw details of the bids from Formby, Maghull and Crosby. each and every one of the bids from Sefton Central deserved to be winners and they deserve more from the government."
Bill praised Sefton Labour Group who have pledged to set up a fund to give the borough's shopping centres a boost during the difficult economic climate.
Bill said: "The Labour Group again are taking the lead on this where the Tories and Lib Dems in government are failing our town centres.
"Local businsses are struggling to make ends meet at the moment. While the government has grabbed its headlines for the Portas scheme, it is now the Labour Party in Sefton which is coming up with concrete proposals to make a difference in our communities.
"Some of the creative ideas which we have seen generated within our shopping centres by local business people, local shoppers and volunteers, have been tremendous.
"There is a clear desire to improve the offering in our shopping centres, to attract shoppers and to see our town centres once again returned to their former glory.
"That is exactly what the Labour Group on Sefton Council is proposing to do."
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