Monday, 11 July 2016 07:30

Awards to find best British high street

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Awards to find best British high street

MARKET towns and villages are being urged to enter an annual competition to find Britain's best high street.

Now in its third year, the 2016 Great British High Street competition celebrates work to revive, adapt and diversify the nation's high streets.

The government bills it as an opportunity for councils, businesses, community groups and volunteers to achieve recognition and share best practice.

Last year's competition had 230 entries and over 200,000 public votes.

The 2016 competition is expected to build on that success – investment in the high street is up by 30% and the national vacancy rate is at its lowest level since January 2009.

Retail sales have increased year-on-year for the longest period on record, says the government.

High streets minister Marcus Jones called on communities across the country to enter their villages, towns and cities into the Great British High Street competition 2016.

Last year's competition saw a record-breaking 230 entries and attracted over 200,000 public votes, with Bishy Road in York, a former finalist, crowned Britain's best.

With new categories, new prizes, including the chance to win up to £10,000 each, Mr Jones said he expected to see even more competition entries this year.

The government is helping local business communities adapt to the changing face of high streets, with a £6.7bn package of business rates support.

It says this will cut the rates for 900,000 businesses – with 600,000 now paying none at all.

Mr Jones said: "With a record number of entries and 200,000 public votes cast, last year's competition was a massive success.

"This year's Great British High Street competition is going to be even bigger and better, with new categories and a simplified entry form.

"I'd urge everyone to get involved to showcase the hard work of your community, in keeping high streets the life and soul of our towns, villages and cities."

As well as the cash prize, winners will also receive dedicated support and mentoring from industry experts which could range from one to one coaching to advice on digital marketing.

An expert training taskforce from internet giant Google will provide category winners with training on how to make the most of their digital skills.

A High Streets Partnership Working Group is being chaired by British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds.

"This is a hugely exciting time for our high streets," she said.

"We have seen some really excellent examples where great leadership, collaboration and partnership have led to regeneration, more footfall and as a result, more sustainable high streets."

The awards include categories for the best large and small market town high streets, the best coastal community high street and the best village high street.

There are also categories for the best traders .

Nominations are now open across England, Wales and Scotland. The top three shortlisted nominees in each category will be announced in October.

Finalists will go to a public online vote and be visited by the Future High Streets Forum judging panel made up of industry leaders from across retail, property and business.

The deadline for entries is Friday, 9 September. Details of how to enter the competition can be found at www.thegreatbritishhighstreet.co.uk.

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