The citizens of war-torn Mogadishu have erupted into a frenzy of celebration as news broke that their city had been picked to become a Portas Pilot Town.
The Somalian capital was considered a rank outsider to take part in legendary retail guru and civic warrior, Mary Portas’s, new £1 million scheme which saw hundreds of towns compete for just 12 places.
Appointed last year by David Cameron to look into ways of re-invigorating failing high streets, Portas came up with a range of recommendations and solutions, prompting the Portas Pilot Town scheme to be setup which will see towns given up to £100,000 to improve themselves.
And although Portas faces stinging criticism for awarding one of the coveted slots to a foreign city, the retail crusader said: ‘Mogadishu had one of the worst failing high streets out of all the applications I didn’t have time to read and I saw an opportunity to put right a situation where generations of generals, politicians and diplomats have failed. Through the joy of retail, the people of Mogadishu will come to see that there are more important things in life than kidnapping rich tourists and driving around in 4x4’s killing each other.’
Mogadishu’s mayor, Mahamoud Nur, who sent off the application said he was ‘delighted’ at the news: ‘I’m Mary’s biggest fan and have all the Mary Queen of Shops episodes on DVD.’