Well I'm sad to say we have not chosen to be a Portas Pilot town, but I'm not sad that we tried. Over the last three months we have injected new energy and enthusiasm into the town of Warwick and have all come together to try and make our town better for everyone. The speed and strength of this campaign has been nothing short of remarkable. The support and backing received from the councils right down to the people on the street has been phenomenal, and I feel we have won something from this anyway. We have won back something rare, and that's community spirit. From young to old, Warwick stood united and worked together to make this proposal, and I think we all deserve to be called winners for that.
I feel an immense amount of pride to have been part of the newly-formed Town Team, and I feel very privileged to have not only been the voice of the campaign, but also to have worked with some incredibly energetic and focused people. I would like to take this opportunity to thank those in my immediate Town Team and supporters far and wide for all their efforts:
- David Butler (WDC) for his lightning reaction to this blog and the news that we wanted to put forward a proposal. His knowledge and skills on the subject have been brilliant.
- Ian Kirkwood (WDC) for his support of the town traders (way before this ever came to light) and his ongoing energy in the town - a true asset to the traders of Warwick.
- Chris White our MP for being true, passionate and supportive. Chris is a resident as well as the MP for our town and his passion and enthusiasm for it success is evident. Many heartfelt thanks for everything.
- Tim Harrison-Jones from Warwick Castle and Huw Williams from the Racecourse for once again working 'with' Warwick town and showing they are not too big to care. Their help and guidance has been vital.
- David Hatton and Jerry Harding for getting this off the ground, and for providing the energy and a shop front for the Portas campaign. They are very active members of the Town Team, and their infectious enthusiasm has not been seen for a long time in Warwick. We need more businesses like theirs.
- Jack Linstead and his media team for their skills and creative ideas for the YouTube video. Also a special mention to Jack for his brilliant work on the monster Portas document we submitted.
- Richard Woods and the students from Myton School for their time and efforts on the great YouTube entry.
- Trudy Offer (former Town Mayor of Warwick) for being the first to support us and dropping everything whenever she could to help our campaign. She adopted a fresh approach to the role of a Town Mayor and I think it's a winner!
- Gaz Nash and Nina Bale, the unsung heroes behind the Warwick Rocks posters which captured the imagination of Warwickshire. The poster campaign has fans in Warwick, the Midlands, London and even the US. They provided incredible work and ideas.
- Thank you to all the members and followers of WarwickTweetup, a Twitter community that has been the true energy and driving force behind this from the start. Special mentions to Karen Massey for her photography work for the various media articles, and Annette Taylor for her design and logo work. Also thanks to the Rose and Crown for becoming our hub and office, and huge thanks to Jo Ciriani who has proofed every one of the blogs, sometimes at ridiculous hours. Without Jo, this blog would not have kept up with the momentum it created.
- We wouldn't have been able to achieve any of this without Estelle Dimelor, our chair. The motivation and skill set Estelle brought to the Town Team has been quite astonishing. Getting a team made up of people with day jobs and many other commitments to focus and get things done on time was no easy task. Estelle is a force to be reckoned with, and I'm honoured to have worked with her. Warwick is lucky to have such positive, pro-active people living here.
- And of course you. Yes you! If you're reading this blog, you made this happen. You talked, tweeted, shared, commented and gave us the ideas and energy to move forward. This has been a revelation, a power to the people moment, a time to look back and realise that people from all walks of life can work together and make something positive happen.
So what's next? Well we hope to continue as a Town Team. We forged strong bonds with members from all sections of the community, and had a great relationship with our three councils who worked so well with us during the start of the campaign. More recently this communication failed and we have noticed other areas which Warwick needs help - mainly its poor communication amongst its many groups.We hope to still provide a voice for the Warwick community through channels like this blog. Transparency and communication are very much a rare thing in this day and age, but the Portas Town Team are championing it, and want to continue to do so.
We have also heard news that there are another 12 Portas Pilot places available, and will be pursuing the campaign once more. We still need your support and encouragement as we try and become a test 'Town team' as announced by Grant Shapps.
Thank you to everyone who has supported and helped us. It really has been an incredible journey that we hope doesn't end here.
Well done Warwick... it's been emotional.