Portas teams get help in... keeping calm

The Mary Portas initiative has been plagued by rows

Their various bust-ups have attracted as much attention as their work to save the high street, but now a new plan has been hatched to bring a sense of calm to Mary Portas’ Pilot towns.

Several of the 27 Portas Pilot towns, as well as representatives from the 300-plus town teams, are being given government-funded lessons in conflict resolution, The Grocer can reveal.

The Association of Town & City Management, which is overseeing the next phase of the work, claimed progress had been hindered too often by infighting between retailers, councillors and landlords, meaning many projects were yet to get off the ground.

Chief executive Martin Blackwell said events in Liverpool this week and London next week would include workshops on how to avoid getting bogged down in disputes, such as the infamous occasion when the leadership of the Margate pilot quit in protest after falling out with Portas.

“The stages we talk about are forming, storming, norming and performing,” added Blackwell. “Some of the towns are still in the storming phase.”