Over 300 towns will fight to become one of the 12 Portas pilots. And the huge response to Mary Portas’ proposals has forced local government minister Grant Shapps to launch a series of roadshows across the country, starting next week.

Backed by the Association of Town Centre Management, the events in Solihull, Bristol, Bolton and London will see DCLG experts provide advice on preparing bids.

Martin Blackwell, CEO of the ATCM, said the government also wanted to ensure those who missed out on pilot funding were not left behind.

“I can’t remember anything like it. But of those 300 only 12 are going to get funding and we don’t want the other 288 left alienated.” The deadline for bids is 30 March.