QUEEN of Shops Mary Portas and Witham MP Priti Patel have been sharing ideas on rejuvenating high streets. The Tory politician, whose constituency includes Stanway and Tiptree, was invited to the all-party Parliamentary group for town centres.

Retail marketing consultant Ms Portas is conducting a review for the Government on the future of shopping centres.

Her recommendations have not been published, but Ms Patel has been given a preview of what could be in the report.

She said: “I was pleased to hear Mary is advocating local authorities develop ambitious plans for town centre redevelopments, with a greater focus on community hubs and transport plans that consider options such as pedestrianisation to allow for town centre markets.

“She touched on relief on business rates and support for new models of retailing and enterprise in our towns.

“These areas are relevant to Witham and I know everyone with an interest in the area would like to see an ambitious plan for the future of Witham.”

Witham firms have said business rates need to be cut to attract more retailers into empty shops and help existing ones.

They have also called for more free parking and a better range of shops.

Ms Patel said: “Businesses are struggling and I welcome the interest Mary has taken in finding ways to rejuvenate high streets.”

Ms Portas, the presenter of Channel 4’s Mary, Queen of Frocks has been hired by Prime Minister David Cameron as a retail adviser during the economic slump.