Market Rasen IS a Portas Pilot Town!

Market Rasen's Georgian Market Square during our Portas Pop up Market, May 14th, 2012. Photo by Push Creativity

Market Rasen’s Georgian Market Square during MR BIG’s Extraordinary Portas Pop up Market, May 14th, 2012 (Photo by Ashley Taylor @ Push Creativity)

The small Lincolnshire town of Market Rasen is going to have more to celebrate than it bargained for over the coming Jubilee weekend, as it has been announced as a winner in the government’s Portas Pilot scheme.

A group of local traders and business people who call themselves MR BIG (Market Rasen Business Improvement Group) made a bid for funding to help regenerate a Georgian town that has slipped into decline in recent years, with a dwindling market and a steep rise in vacant premises along its High St. The bid was to secure a share of £1.2M of government money that will split between 12 winning towns.

The competition was intense with a reported 370 towns battling it out and the deciding factor may well have been video submissions made by entrants to put their plans to Mary Portas (retail guru and Queen of Shops) and Grant Shapps MP.

Market Rasen’s bid video features a broad spread of local business owners and residents, and lays down a manifesto that centres around plans to re-instate the market at the centre of the the town’s community as well as its retail experience, and was one of the few Portas Pilot videos that Mary Portas picked out to feature on her Twitter stream.

The plan is full of innovative ideas about how new businesses can learn how to trade on the market, progress into a MR BIG retail unit, where they will be given a helping hand to learn retail skills, before progressing on to take premises of their own.

Founding member of MR BIG and local business woman, Sarah Lamballe explains the group’s response to the news: ‘We’re absolutely over the moon that all of our hard work has paid off.  We’ve managed to turn around a general attitude of apathy into some really strong and positive belief that our town can be re-invigorated.  Securing the funding really is the icing on the cake.’

The town recently proved this point.  Whilst other towns awaited the results of the Portas Pilot with bated breath, MR BIG decided to have a go at putting some of its plans into action, creating a one-off Monday ‘Pop-up’ Market – taking ideas they’d seen Mary Portas herself talking about on TV.  The result was a stand out success, with over 30 market stalls, food, arts and crafts and even local live musicians all taking part.

Sarah comments, ‘We were determined to turn around our town with or without the Portas money, but now with the result, we can fast track our plans.  We know that now our work begins in earnest to make sure Market Rasen realises its full potential.’


Journalists wishing to talk to a member of Market Rasen’s town team are requested to call:

Sara Scott 07912 644968
Sarah Lamballe 07974 194888


Filming our Portas Pilot Video

Our Portas Pilot video on YouTube

The fine detail of the bid – our Town Transformation Plans – published online

Mary Portas Tweets praise for our Portas Pilot video

Our Extraordinary Pop up Market on May 14th, proving what can be done in four weeks with no funding, but plenty of great ideas and heaps of hard work. Also commended by Mary Portas on Twitter.

The back story of the Market Rasen Business Improvement Group (MR BIG) started January 2012


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2 thoughts on “Market Rasen IS a Portas Pilot Town!

  1. Lesley Tither

    Well done Sarah and everyone who took part is this amazing project. Been following Market Rasen’s campaign from France, having lived in the area until recently. Hope this is but the start of something truly BIG for the town.

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