South Herefordshire MP Jesse Norman welcomed TV retail guru Mary Portas to the Hay Festival last week–and invited her back to visit Ross-on-Wye as well! The self-styled “Mary Queen of Shops” came to the Festival to talk about her plans to revive high street shopping up and down the country, following her review of high street retailing for the government last year. Her event, which was sponsored by Jesse, was a sell-out with over 1,400 people attending. Afterwards she visited shops with Jesse on the high street in Hay-on-Wye, talking to local retailers, setting out her ideas and drawing a crowd of interested spectators. Jesse Norman MP has been a strong supporter of local shops in Herefordshire, even organising and launching a local guide to good shops in 2009. Most recently he enthusiastically backed the bid by Ross-on-Wye to be a Portas Pilot town. Commenting afterwards, he said: “It is great to have Mary Portas come to Hay, and her event was terrific. But I couldn’t resist inviting her to Ross-on-Wye! Especially given all the fantastic work which has been done by local people on the Portas Pilot bid.”

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