Sunday, February 14, 2010

Saving the High Street

The numbers show that the recession continues to bite in the High Street. The 2009 survey from the Local Data Company has shown that the proportion of empty shops has risen, with 13% of the Macclesfield premises vacant. That's worse than the national average of 12% and much worse than comparable Wilmslow (5%) and Altrincham (6%).

The Government’s skewed planning system has seen supermarket giants squeeze the life out of towns and now almost every high street in Britain is an identical collection of chain stores and coffee shops. Macclesfield still has a centre with real character thanks to individual local businesses. It's vital that in any redevelopment these are enabled to survive and grow.

The Liberal Democrat vision is to stop this decline and rebuild vibrant local high streets. This requires a level playing field that allows small and large businesses to flourish alongside
each other. It won’t happen without government action. That’s why we have developed a
range of plans to ensure that high streets remain at the heart of our communities.
These include:

• Ensuring a long term future for the Post Office by developing new services
such as a PostBank
• Direct help for businesses by reforming business rates, reducing
employment taxes as soon as possible and cutting red tape
• Providing fair access to credit by getting the banks to lend again and
creating a more diverse financial infrastructure
• Creating a fairer marketplace by ensuring sustainable retail development
and taking a more localised approach to competition

As Nick Clegg says:
Our high streets have borne the brunt of this recession, with boarded up shops scarring towns and villages across Britain."