New team on way to oversee initiative

Mary Portas
Mary Portas

A NEW team is being put together to help shape the revitalisation of a town.

Traders and residents in Newbiggin are putting together a committee to lead the changes on the way after the town was selected to be one of the regeneration pilot projects being overseen by retail expert Mary Portas.

Newbiggin Traders’ Association is hoping to breathe new life into the town, and the group’s secretary, Crystal Hinds, and chairman, Norma Thompson, are already coming up with ideas to improve public transport and reduce the number of empty shop units.

Now efforts are being made to assemble a town team to oversee how the £100,000-plus earmarked for boosting the town’s appeal to shoppers is spent.

Crystal, also manager of Newbiggin Maritime Centre, said: “We are hoping that many of the residents, traders, businesses and community organisations in Newbiggin will sign up to be part of our town team.

“Our Portas pilot will focus on five key areas, but it will be up to the town team to decide which activities are piloted as we realise there will not be enough money or time to test them all.”

The team is appealing for ideas on how to make better use of vacant shop units, improve transport around the town, put Newbiggin on the map as a visitor destination and encourage traders to come to Newbiggin.

A launch event will be held at the maritime centre on Sunday at 4.30pm.

Those going along will have the opportunity to suggest ideas and find out how they can get involved.

Norma added: “It is really important that all the traders and residents in the town are a part of this project as much of its success will be dependent on their ideas, expertise and involvement.

“Newbiggin has a strong sense of community spirit, so we are confident that there will be a positive response from the town.”

The pilot project bid was backed by organisations including Blyth Valley Arts and Leisure and Newbiggin Town Council, so it is anticipated that they will be represented on the town team.