We are having a good debate (Tuesday 17th January) about the future of High Streets and Town Centres, a subject I have long campaigned about. Indeed last week I had two parliamentary questions answered about Mary Portas’s recent report. There is no doubt that retailers acting together with town centre managers and Chambers of Commerce can make a difference and Mary Portas also pointed out the importance of car parking availability and the need to avoid overburdening shoppers with charges and restrictions. This is not a time to make life more difficult and any help would be welcome.
It is also important that there is variety of shops in High Streets and many colleagues have spoken today against a few chains dominating. The challenge of internet shopping is to be considered. It is noticeable that people do like spending time in their towns and many make internet purchases follow research in stores. There is also a more positive picture with cafes, restaurants and takeaway food outlets. Government, NHS and local government can help by keeping and clustering facilities in town centres.
It is encouraging to see so much enthusiasm for our town centres. I will continue to press for action.