One thought on “Government report on the [ill] health of high streets

  1. An utter waste of time and effort. You only have to read the Recommendations on page 8 to see that this report does absolutely zero towards levelling the playing field between online and out-of-town and high-street retailing (except for a wishy-washing recommendation to already financially stretched councils to reduce their car park incomes – which with the current state of local government finances has zero chance of being implemented).

    Having now moved to the Midlands, and seen the state of Walsall town centre shopping (c. 2/3 of shops are closed, and even the street market is only 1/3 the size it used to be), I can tell the people of East Devon just how lucky they are still to have a relatively vibrant High Street – though I doubt this will last for much longer as the downward pressures on retailers are increasing and never ending, the Xmas period this year is the worst on record for retail and I doubt that Brexit is going to do anything but make it worse, probably significantly worse (and if we have a no-deal Brexit likely much, much worse).

    IMO what is needed is:

    a. Massive reductions in town centre car parking charges for shoppers (i.e. say <= 3 hours), whilst retaining charges for commuters.

    b. Reductions in rateable value for High Street retail premises to reflect the new reality for retail turnover, and an extended or permanent small-business reduction in business rates.

    c. Tax breaks for the owners of smaller retail high-street properties combined with laws to ensure that these savings are passed onto the retailers themselves;

    d. Additional taxes to be paid by out-of-town and on-line retail properties for e.g. employee and customer parking, perhaps a carbon tax to be paid by these same companies to reflect the additional pollution created by them being away from where their employees and customers live.

    e. Better protections on working conditions for the employees / contract staff for online retailers who can more easily get away with unreasonable working conditions when their operations are not subject to the scrutiny of vising customers.

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