A retail guru’s proposals to revitalise high streets could throw a “lifeline” to towns such as Witham.

“Queen of Shop” Mary Portas has presented a report to the Government on how to breathe life into towns.

Among her many ideas, she has called for free parking and stronger controls on the number of bookies allowed to “blight” Britain’s towns, especially in low income areas.

Business leaders in Witham have already called for free parking in a bid to attract more shoppers to town.

Witham MP Priti Patel, who met with Ms Portas in the House of Commons in the autumn to discuss Witham, said: “The proposals put forward by Mary Portas offer a valuable lifeline to local businesses.

“If implemented in full, they will give town centres like Witham the chance to compete to attract new businesses and customers into the town.”