Thursday, 19 May 2011 19:46

High street review wins rural backing

Written by  Ruralcity Media
High street review wins rural backing

RURAL towns have welcomed an independent review into ways of promoting more prosperous and diverse high streets.

The review will examine ways that the government, local authorities and businesses can boost the contribution made by shops to the local economy.

Led by Mary Portas, ministers hope the review will help remove barriers to stronger, more sustainable and balanced growth across the country.

"The High Street should be at the very heart of every community," said Prime Minister David Cameron.

"It is vital that we do all that we can to ensure they thrive.

Mr Cameron said high streets brought together people, providing essential services and creating jobs and investment.

TV retail guru and marketing consultant Mary Portas was the right person to undertaken the review, he added.

"I am confident that her straight talking, no nonsense approach will help us to create vibrant and diverse town centres and bring back the bustle to our high streets."

The coalition government believes communities can be weakened and undermined when high street goods and services disappear.

Ms Portas said: "With town centre vacancy rates doubling over the last two years the need to take action to save our high streets has never been starker."

"I am calling on businesses, local authorities and shoppers to contribute their ideas on how we can halt this decline in its tracks."

Action for Market Towns, the national charity committed to the vitality and viability of small towns, said it welcomed the review.

AMT chief executive Chris Wade said: "It's great to hear that Mary Portas is calling for businesses, local authorities and shoppers to share their ideas."

Small towns are home to one fifth of the UK population.

Mr Wade said: "Many small and market towns are gaining national recognition for their new ideas to make towns and high streets stronger."

Rural towns were already using fresh thinking to great effect.

They included initiatives such as innovative local loyalty schemes which promote local shopping and put money back in to towns.

At the same time, independent retailers were working together to create virtual local department stores.

With government support, the use of 'benchmarking' could benefit small towns across the UK.

"One good shop cannot save a high street, but a handful working together can," said Mr Wade.

The review will be presented to the government this autumn.

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