The British Retail Consortium (BRC) welcomed a new guide designed to help local business leaders to identify and address any decline in the health of their high street. “Healthy High Street? A healthcheck for high streets and town centres” was launched by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS). The BRC, which originally proposed high street health monitoring, assisted with the development of the document.
The retailers’ organisation welcomes the simple and practical advice it contains and encourages high street businesses and local authorities to use it to assess their own town centres. It is also calling on the Government and local authorities to back the booklet with more practical action by:
• Ensuring property and business rates are affordable;
• Reinstating Empty Property Rate Relief (EPRR means reduced rates for properties which are empty);
• Local authorities to stop using car parks primarily as a means of raising revenue;
• Local authorities to set aside a proportion of the funds raised from parking revenues to improve car parking options in and around high streets;
• Shift transport policy focus to rewarding people for using public transport rather than penalising them for using cars;
• Police to prioritise retail crime and anti-social behaviour;
• Local authorities to restore and repair damaged property and streetscapes as quickly as possible;
• Government to develop a clear strategy to address increasing rates of vacancy and the accompanying decline in fortunes in some town centres.
Tom Ironside, BRC director of business and regulation, said: “This document offers excellent practical advice for business owners and local authorities. I recommend that retailers use it to measure the health of their high-streets and take action to address any signs of decline.”