THURROCK Council is to bid for £100,000 of funding to return Grays town centre to its glory days.

The Government will pick 12 towns across the country pilot a new scheme designed to improve the coutry's town centres, devised by high street queen Mary Portas.

The council's cabinet agreed last night to submit a bid for the funding, and create a special "town team" to oversee the regeneration of the town centre.

It also agreed to put £100,000 of section 106 planning money into the scheme as well.

Cabinet member for regeneration, cllr Andy Smith, was positive about the town's future.

He said: "I very strongly support this. Some people tend to run down the town, but I think it has a big future.

"We will be working with lots of stakeholders in the town and I think we are going to put in a good bid.”

The Portas review, which was published in December, makes 28 recommendations for breathing life back into the country's high streets.

Chief of these is creating the specialist town teams.

The review said: "The best results will come from maximum collaboration at the local level to create high streets that people want to use, enjoy and return to.

"It’s up to local areas to decide what works for them, but a Town Team could include key landlords, large and small shopkeepers, council representatives with specific knowledge of planning and development, the mayor or MP, other local businesses and service providers, and local residents.

"The Town Team provides an opportunity for different local stakeholders to come together. Town Teams could also inherit powers and rights to try new ways of working on the high street.

“This should be game-changing stuff and thoughtful engagement, not just the usual suspects round a table planning the Christmas decorations."

The move was backed unanimously by the cabinet.

Speaking after the meeting, cllr Smith said: “Most of us around that table were long term residents of Thurrock, people who remember Grays High Street as it used to be.

“High Streets across the country have taken a bit of a beating over the past couple of decades and Grays is no exception, but that’s going to change."