Lizards, snakes, bakers and florists turn out in Seaham to back Mary Portas town makeover bid

Steph Guidi, centre, has swapped her red wig for a red tegu lizard but is still "getting on the bandwagon" to back the campaign to bring Mary Portas to Seaham.
Steph Guidi, centre, has swapped her red wig for a red tegu lizard but is still "getting on the bandwagon" to back the campaign to bring Mary Portas to Seaham.
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LEAPING lizards! Business folk in Seaham are going to bizarre lengths to help give their town a makeover.

From pet stores to pie shops, about 85 per cent of shops in Seaham are now backing the call to bring retail expert Mary Portas to the town.

It is hoped that TV star Mary will be able to turn around the town’s fortunes, as well as secure access to a cash pot of up to £2million from the Big Lottery Fund.

Seaham’s bid to become one of 12 Portas Pilot locations has been given a boost by a workshop offering advice on putting together the proposals. Steph Guidi, from Crazy Clearance, attended the Association of Town Centre Management session in Bolton with Byron Place manager John Brady and chairman of Seaham Business Forum, Gary Hepple,

Representatives of Yellow Door, the communications and retail expert firm set up by broadcaster and business consultant Portas, were also at the event.

Steph said: “It went really well. We were offered information on the bid and they were pleased to hear we already have a market and a new shopping centre with Byron Place.

“We had a great conversation with a lady from Yellow Door afterwards.”

Grahame Morris, who represents the Easington constituency, believes the Government has ignored the report by Portas, commissioned by David Cameron to address ways to halt the decline of the high street, and has hit out at a lack of action to deal with boarded up shops.

He said: “Healthy and diverse high streets are the cornerstone of local communities.

“The Government must give people in East Durham more say in how their high streets look and give local authorities the resources they need to reduce the high numbers of empty shops.

“The review is a step in the right direction, but the Government must accept its share of responsibility.”

The forum has confirmed it will hold its American vintage vehicle day on Saturday, July 14, which will follow on from its Easter celebration on Saturday, April 7.

Plans for the events, along with talks about the video to be made as part of the Portas bid, will be discussed at its meeting at 6pm in the Duke of Seaham pub tomorrow.

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham