PARISH Councillors in three of Hampshire’s market towns have agreed to continue funding their own Mary Portas.
Having previously lauded the success of their Town Team, headed by Heidi Isa, Bishop’s Waltham, Denmead and Wickham were approached by Winchester City Council to ask if they would continue their funding of Mrs Isa’s position.
Her role covers everything from fundraising and marketing, to setting up new business networks and raising customer service standards.
The city council has already secured £6,000 from Hampshire County Council to go towards marketing and advertising for the market towns.
Mrs Isa has been in the post for nine months and the parishes have each agreed to add £5,000 from their reserves to pay for the second year of her position.
Bishop’s Waltham failed in its bid to be part of retail guru Mary Portas’ high street regeneration scheme in 2012 but received a consolation grant of £10,000, which was used towards the hiring of Mrs Isa to work as development officer.
Her work with the Town Team has been credited by businesses in the area with boosting media coverage and gaining extra grants, such as the £3,600 from the county council towards a website promoting the town.
Cllr Rob Humby, deputy leader of Winchester City Council, said: “I went round all the businesses in Bishop’s Waltham the other day and every business commented on what a great job Heidi has done.”