Portas party helped people to see South Town in a new light

OLD Town was the setting for a big party at the weekend as people came to celebrate the success of the area’s Portas Pilots bid team.

Clemens Street was closed to traffic for Old Town Festival last Saturday, which attracted hundreds of visitors.

Live music was provided by musicians from in and around the area such as singer-songwriter Shanade Morrow, and samba group the Sambassadors of Groove.

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The Sambassadors began their performance at St Mary’s church before leading their audience down to the railway bridge in Bath Street and up to the party.

Jeremy Ireland, the team leader of the town team which successfully bid for £100,000 from the Mary Portas project, said: “The music and PA were complimented as being excellent and a lot of people were saying positive things to me.

“I got to speak to people who I have never met before and they were asking if this kind of thing happens all of the time.”

Plenty of fun and games were on offer to youngsters who enjoyed street entertainers, face painting and circus skills demonstrations.

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A new cafe called Magpies, set up at one of the empty retail units near the Grand Union canal, held a launch event to coincide with the celebration while the Punjab Delights shop has now changed its name to Olde Town to get into the spirit of the rejuvenation project.

Mr Ireland said future street parties could include traders setting up stalls outside the front of their businesses and free parking at nearby car parks.

Visitors were encouraged to volunteer their time and expertise to help the Portas Pilots project with 32 names being added to the list.

Posters were put up providing updates of what the project will include and people were also asked to share their ideas on what its priorities should be.

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Mr Ireland said: “The event was extremely successful. The aim was to get people together having fun, talking to each other and seeing Old Town in a new light.

“We will continue to give people the opportunity to give feedback.”

Search for Mary Portas Bid South Leamington Old Town on Facebook.

n On Sunday, Mr Ireland, fellow town team member Helen Wild and Flic and Barny Luxmoore of mobile catering business the Jabberwockey, helped a team from Warwick District Council contractor Sita to clean up parts of Old Town.

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At the event the previous day residents had marked on a map the streets and alleyways which were most in need of the work.

More volunteers have signed up to take part in future clean-ups.

Mr Luxmoore said: “We’re happy to help in any way we can.”

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