Simon says: Help us, Mary

FACE TO FACE: Simon Reevell MP is to meet TV retail expert Mary Portas.
FACE TO FACE: Simon Reevell MP is to meet TV retail expert Mary Portas.

MP Simon Reevell is to meet television’s ‘Queen of Shops’ Mary Portas next month to discuss how to boost Dewsbury.

Mr Reevell wants retail guru Mary to visit the town as a matter of urgency as part of her national high street review. He will be pressing the case for Dewsbury town centre at a meeting with Mary at Westminster in October.

In May, following the news that WHSmith and Dorothy Perkins were to quit the town centre, the Reporter led calls for Mary to join the fight back against retail decline.

WHSmith has since reversed its decision and is still open but the former Dorothy Perkins store in the Princess of Wales precinct now stands empty.

Mary Portas’s review is being carried out for the government’s department for Business, Innovation and Skills and involves visits to several town centres to meet shop owners and customers.

Mr Reevell said: “I understand that Mary Portas wants to learn about the town’s problems and I am glad of the opportunity to meet her. I will be asking her to come and see the town for herself.

“It’s not just that Dewsbury is a declining mill town, it has also been affected by some poor planning decisions in the 1960s and 70s. Now that work started on the Pioneer building, it is important that we keep the pressure up to regenerate the town centre.”

Coun Paul Kane, chairman of Dewsbury Regeneration Board, said he welcomed the news that Mr Reevell would get the opportunity to put Dewsbury’s case to Mary Portas.

“We want a town centre we can be proud of and we must keep up the pressure to make it happen,” he said.

At the time her appointment Mary, star of Channel 4’s Secret Shopper and BBC 2’s Mary Queen of Shops, said: “With town centre vacancy rates doubling over the last two years the need to take action to save our high streets has never been starker.

“I am calling on businesses, local authorities and shoppers to contribute their ideas on how we can halt this decline in its tracks and create town centres that we can all be proud of.”

Prime Minister David Cameron asked Mary to undertake the national review.