THREE Hampshire towns are searching for their own Mary Portas to guide them through tough economic times.

Bishop’s Waltham, Denmead and Wickham are teaming together to find a Market Towns’ Development Officer – someone to handle tasks ranging from events management, fundraising and marketing, to setting up new business networks and raising customer service standards.

Last year the Chronicle reported how Bishop’s Waltham failed in its bid to be part of retail guru Mary Portas’ high street regeneration scheme.

But the town, with the backing of Meon Valley MP George Hollingbery, received a consolation grant of £10,000 and a package of support from the Association of Town Centre Managers.

Tony Kippenberger, chairman of the Bishop’s Waltham Town Team, said: “The Town Team has plenty of ideas and plans and we now need someone dedicated to turning those ideas into action, someone who will have the time and energy to actually make things happen. Somebody who will make a difference.”

Mr Hollingbery said: “These rural market towns are great places to live, work and visit and I’m looking forward to meeting the new Market Towns’ development officer who will help keep them vibrant and attractive.”

Anyone interested in the post should contact the city council’s head of economy and arts, Kate Cloud.