BRIAN BINELEY, a senior Conservative MP and Chairman of the Conservative Parliamentary Enterprise Group, has launched a Commission to review the future of small shops in Britain’s high streets with a view to helping regenerate town centres across the country.
The Commission is to consider five prime areas of concern, which include the threats and opportunities facing independent shops.
Mr Binley believes that Britain’s high streets can be saved by addressing important issues such as planning, business rates and rents, crime against business and regulations. He said: “We need to consider Government’s proper role and look at how we can ensure that small businesses are able to compete fairly. We also need to look at ways of encouraging best practice and innovation so that we retain the diversity and character of our high streets.”
The Commission fears that Britain’s towns are becoming far too cloned as the number of independent retail outlets falls, putting off shoppers. Crimes against businesses accounts for 20% of recorded crime in the UK and 57% of businesses have been the victim of crime in the past year.
Planning decisions of local authorities are one of the most important factors that can influence the viability of businesses in town centres.
The takeover of local convenience stores by supermarkets is acknowledged as one of the main detriments of the small independent retailer. But equally key is parking and transportation. The Commission will investigate whether local Councils need the revenue generated by parking rates and Penalty Charge Notices to supplement Council Tax.