“A bright future for our high streets” – Labour launches new Commission to rebuild Britain’s high streets and revitalise town centres
Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds launched an independent Commission on Rebuilding Our High Streets on Monday 19 April, bringing together experts from businesses in retail, leisure and hospitality, as well as representatives of the trade union, local government cooperative and social enterprise sectors.
Promising “a bright future for our high streets”, Dodds launched the commission on a visit to Dewsbury town centre. The announcement comes as new figures reveal that over the last decade high streets across the UK have lost:
- 9,775 shops
- 5,785 pubs
- 7,400 bank branches
- 1,195 libraries
The Covid crisis has only made things worse. Last year alone, nearly 180,000 retail jobs were lost and up to 200,000 more are at risk this year.
The Commission will meet regularly over the course of the next six months to offer independent advice to the Party on issues such as:
- How the high streets of the 2020s and beyond can be supported to thrive, as great places where people can shop, socialise, meet, work and live.
- Bringing empty commercial properties back into use for existing and new businesses.
- Levelling the playing field between bricks and mortar businesses and online firms.
- Promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in our high streets, reflecting the needs of local communities.
It will include Michael Meadows (British Land), Peter Kinsella (Lunya), Peter Holbrook (Social Enterprise UK) Paddy Lillis (USDAW), Arvinda Gohil (Central YMCA), Councillor Tricia Gilby (Chesterfield Borough Council) and Anna Birley (Cooperative Party).
The UK’s high streets have been hit by unprecedented challenges throughout the pandemic and face more threats in the coming year. These include government changes to planning rules in August, which will allow shops to be converted into low quality flats over the heads of local communities, and the staged return of business rates, with firms liable to pay full rates again in April next year.
The Government has repeatedly promised to reform Britain’s broken business rates system, but yet again at the Budget pushed back the date when reforms would be announced.
Anneliese Dodds MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, said:
“I’m delighted to be announcing the Rebuilding Our High Streets commission today and I want to thank everyone involved for agreeing to take part.
“Our high streets have been through a gruelling year, and Conservative changes to planning laws and their failure to reform the broken business rates system mean there are more challenges ahead.
“Labour is determined to deliver a brighter future for our high streets as part of our mission to make Britain the best place to grow up and grow old in.
“That doesn’t mean harking back to a vision of the past, but finding ways to make our town centres places we can be proud of and where communities can come together. This Commission will offer independent advice to Labour on how we achieve that.”
In Crawley we are working with Businesses and business organisations including the Town Centre BID to take action to help Crawley’s High street.