SOS to Queen of Shops

Steph Guidi of Crazy Clearance store in Church street Seaham, dons an orange wig, watched by some of the shopkeepers who are all campaigning to bring Mary Portas to the town to help regenerate trade in the once popular street.
Steph Guidi of Crazy Clearance store in Church street Seaham, dons an orange wig, watched by some of the shopkeepers who are all campaigning to bring Mary Portas to the town to help regenerate trade in the once popular street.
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MARY Mary quite contrary, please help Seaham grow.

That is the plea from the town’s businesses who hope retail expert Mary Portas will use her no-nonsense approach to turn around its fortunes.

The Government is seeking a dozen places to become “Portas Pilots” which could unlock a potential £1million “golden ticket” to help their high street thrive.

Seaham Business Forum is gathering support for the bid, due in at the end of March, to help its faltering high street and surrounding areas.

It hopes Mary will see the positives going for the area, which include its soon-to-launch marina, free parking and new businesses including bars and cafes.

Steph Guidi, 31, who runs discount store Crazy Clearance with husband Ronnie, 39, is leading the campaign, and is calling on businesses around the area to get involved.

She said: “I think she could make a really big difference to Seaham, Church Street in particular, and we’ve had some good comments so far.

“We would like to see someone independent, from outside the area, put their views across.

“Sometimes it takes a fresh approach, from someone other than the council.”

A Facebook page, Seaham Campaign, has been launched to gather support, spark discussions and welcome ideas, with schools and community groups being invited to join businesses and shoppers in backing the calls.

An increase in parking spaces, a farmers and local producers’ market, a canopy added to Church Street and a greater mix of traders are among suggestions mooted so far on the town’s community page.

Publicity material bearing the trademark red bob of Portas will go up around the town, with a meeting planned to discuss the bid.

The Government is seeking a mix of places, including coastal towns, to involve in the project, along with those which show commitment, potential and an eye for innovation.

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham