FRODSHAM faces stiff competition from hundreds of towns pitching for a share of £1m Government cash to test the ideas of TV retail guru Mary Portas in a campaign to revitalise town centres across the UK.

However, Mayor Andrew Dawson is excited about the town’s ‘groundbreaking and innovative bid’.

Frodsham town clerk Kate Dodgson added: “It’s fantastic, I think we’ve got a real fighting chance.

“Although some shops are thriving, parts of Frodsham are showing signs of distress,” said Cllr Dawson.

“But I think we have the wherewithal here to make a real difference. We have a community willing to embrace changes needed to help us thrive, and Frodsham would make an excellent test bed for the Portas project.”

A priority action plan cited in the bid includes:

Kick-starting the digital revolution in Frodsham to promote retail, culture and leisure events

Branding and marketing Frodsham as a cycling and walking town and wedding venue

Identifying retail gaps and seeking out new entrepreneurs

Establishing an information hub in a vacant town centre store

Business mentoring through a skills bank to support entrepreneurs and trial new retail with ‘pop-up’ shops

Additional markets

Reduce vacancies and enhance appearance of shops

Create public Wi-Fi and e-commerce, flexible and extended shop opening hours.

Cheshire West and Chester Council has thrown its weight behind Frodsham’s fresh approach to managing the town centre and its vision for the future.

The authority’s rural agenda and market towns senior project officer, Tony Clare, said: “It’s a strong, innovative bid and I’m very excited about it.

“The Government is looking for something it can roll out beyond the pilots, and Frodsham is well placed to produce a legacy for sustainability.”

The town council has also garnered strong community support from residents, shop owners and business campaign group, Love Frodsham.

Chair Tina Symes said: “This is an extraordinary opportunity for the community to work hand in hand with business to really put our amazing town on the map, locally, nationally and globally.”

Backing for the bid has also come from Weaver Vale MP Graham Evans and MEP Saj Karim, Helsby and Sutton Weaver Parish Councils, Helsby High School and all four primary schools in Frodsham, church leaders, Frodsham Community Centre and Youth Club and the wider business community, including landlords.

Frodsham market manager Michael Don has pledged pitches on the weekly street market for young people to try out their retail skills, “and even a free position on occasion for any unique ideas”.

A snappy supporting video has also been submitted with the bid, and supportive feeds are now airing on a new Frodsham TV channel on YouTube, which is accessible via