Retailers meet with the Government to debate the future of high streets

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The Government’s new Future High Streets Forum, co-chaired by Alliance Boots’ health and beauty boss Alex Gourlay, met for the first time today to plan the high street’s recovery.

The forum aims to help high streets which are suffering in the economic downturn and as a result of the expansion of online shopping.

Civic and business leaders across retail, property and hospitality sectors  who met for the first time on Monday, 25th March, included representatives of Boots, John Lewis, Tesco, Vodafone, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), the British Property Federation and the Association of Town and City Managers (ACTM).

Local growth minister Mark Prisk said: “Now, the Future High Streets Forum will take a joint the lead in driving forward these initiatives and providing the strategic leadership needed to analyse the competition and tackle the difficult problems which conventional high streets need to address.”

But Paul Turner-Mitchell, the retail expert who recently exposed the lack of spending associated with the Portas Pilots and High Street Innovation Fund said: “I know Mark Prisk is new to this role but he seems completely out of touch with what’s going on at the coalface. How can he boast of cutting the business rate burden when his Government has increased business rates by over £500million for high street retailers in the last two years? And to talk of progress where the Portas Pilots and High Street Innovation Fund is concerned takes Government spin to new levels.”

The ACTM has been appointed to deliver a £1m mentor support package to the 27 Portas Pilots and 330 town teams over two years.

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