The government has offered to give £10,000 to towns rejected for regeneration under Mary Portas’ scheme to save the high street.

The 392 towns that applied but failed to become Portas Pilots will be awarded the money if their ‘town teams’ commit to press ahead with rejuvenation plans, as part of a move headed by local government minister Grant Shapps.

If all 390 towns registered it would cost the government an extra £3.9m. Added to the £100,000 for each of the 27 pilots, it will take the total to £6.6m, compared with the initial £1.2m it pledged originally.

Some 27 towns awarded pilot status received £100,000 each from the government to trial various schemes to breathe life back into their areas, including street markets, pop-up shops and reduced rents.

Shapps’ move comes at the end of a tough week for Portas’ pilots. Last Friday revealed the leadership team in Margate had quit en masse, claiming her TV crew were more interested in controversial TV than turning around the seaside town’s fortunes.

Margate town team chairman Robin Vaughan-Lyons said filming had turned into a bitter power struggle. “I’m absolutely devastated but I was left with no option,” he said. “There is a group of people who are more interested in being on TV than they are in helping Margate and they havebeen encouraged by the film crew to make personal attacks on us.”