I AM one of two members of the St Ives public have made a bid for £88,400 to the Mary Portas Pilot Scheme aimed at forming a town team to re-invigorate retail activities in towns across the country. This will build on the work under way in the town plan action teams, especially the economy group.

Michael Purchas, owner of the Golden Lion and a major player in the refurbishment of the Corn Exchange, has joined forces with me to make the bid.

It is based on using the rich heritage of St Ives to attract far more visitors and encourage them tour the historic sites by routing them through the retail areas.

Advertising outside the town, accompanied by free maps (showing retail and history), fingerposts and brown cultural signs will be used, if the bid is successful. A website linking heritage with retail will also be created.

Your readers are invited to visit the five-minute video by going to www.youtube.com and entering "portas pilot bid video st ives" and all will be revealed, thanks to Peter and Debbie Townsend for their technical expertise.

We aim to take maximum advantage of the guided bus link to attract visitors and tourists from Cambridge and outlying towns. Although we live in the shadow of Cambridge we are markedly different as an ancient market town on the banks of a beautiful river. We will market that contrast.

Extra footfall will result in extra bagsful (a better indication of retail health). Increased confidence will attract more retail and this, combined with a heritage/retail website, will help rejuvenate the town's economy.

In the coming months we will not be sitting back waiting for the Portas bid results (due in May) but looking closely at how our ideas may be carried through to action.

If successful against hundreds of other entries, we will feed into and complement the town plan action teams.

So watch out, with a bit of help from Mary Portas, St Ives will emerge like a golden phoenix from the cold ashes of a national economic winter.

PETER BAKER

Chairman, the Civic Society of St Ives

Redwell Close

St Ives