Portas unveils her vision of Liskeard
LISKEARD should be re-branded as the 'Cornwall Crossroads' town and reinvent itself as a vibrant market town which shows off its heritage and have a centre full of independent retailers.
That is part of the vision unveiled by Mary Portas this week to regenerate the ailing town centre.
A micro-department store, with local products, arts and crafts exhibitions and a secret cinema; Liskeard-branded goods and a town discount card are other ideas put forward by the retail guru to change the fortunes of the town, which has been awarded £100,000 by the Government after it was chosen as one of 12 Portas Pilot towns earlier this year.
To kick-start the revamp, she has persuaded Mace, the construction company responsible for the Olympic Park and the Shard, London's tallest building, to project manage a mass voluntary spruce-up of the town in October.
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A packed Public Hall with around 250 people present applauded the ideas devised by Ms Portas and the Liskeard town team.
She said out-of-town supermarkets and parking charges were the main reasons town centres were failing, and they had to re-invent themselves in order to survive.
"I'm not saying supermarkets are wrong, but we have to look at alternatives,'' she said.
Ms Portas said a priority was to fill up the empty shops in Liskeard by offering them rent free until the new businesses started to make money.
She said Liskeard needed to embrace what she described as "social shopping'' to give people a different and exciting experience, something supermarkets could not provide.
"Liskeard needs to look at social shopping, where you can meet people, have a coffee, and we need to put things in place that will give people a shopping experience, with different types of shops.
"We need to create a town centre which is fit for purpose and create a modern, bustling market town.
"We need a brand that will make Liskeard famous, and I love the idea of marketing it as the 'Cornwall Crossroads'.''
Ms Portas said a brand logo would be created for local products.
She said a building has been found for a micro-department store, but it would be very different from the usual type, featuring a cinema, exhibitions, workshops as well as retail outlets.
A Liskeard Town Card would offer 10 per cent discount and to make it work, all retailers would have to sign up to it.
Ms Portas is now urging volunteers to give up the weekend of October 13-14 – and take part in a mass painting exercise to help spruce up the town, and has particularly appealed for local painters and decorators to give up their time in a project that will be overseen by Mace the firm that constructed the Shard and Olympic Park.