The NFRN strongly supports the new report published by the Expert Panel on High Streets and is looking forward to working with High Streets Minister Jake Berry to flesh out these recommendations.
The Panel on High Streets, which was chaired by Sir John Timpson and included representatives from the retail sector, looked at solutions to tackle structural issues facing high streets. The report draws up concrete proposals to give life to the future High Streets Task Force and High Streets Fund. The report also draws a new vision for the town centres in the UK – a vision where local leaders and businesses work in harmony to improve customers’ experience and boost local economies.
Commenting on the recommendations within the report, NFRN National President Mike Mitchelson said: “Empowering local leaders and retailers is key to turn our deserted High Streets into vibrant community hubs. The NFRN has urged public authorities to acknowledge that reality for years, so I’m glad to see that our call has been heard. Our members will welcome all opportunities to work more closely with local authorities. Together, we can design realistic, practical solutions that work for customers and shop owners.”
Referencing the High Street Fund announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in his Autumn Budget, Mr Mitchelson added: “In the light of this report, the NFRN challenges councils to develop a scheme of improvements by accessing this funding.”
He continued: “I welcome the recommendations to facilitate access to data, expert support and examples of best practice. This will surely help our members make enlightened business decisions.”
The report also urges local authorities to ensure that their parking restrictions and charges are not driving people out of their town centres. Responding, Mr Mitchelson said: “The NFRN urges local authorities to involve more closely small businesses when reviewing parking and roadwork policies.”
Mr Mitchelson concluded: “Though the NFRN is very positive about this report, I regret that it does not mention business rates. This is one of the most pressing issues for our members. High Streets will not be saved if public authorities do not open a free discussion on the tax system that cripples convenience stores.”