Ellesmere Port & Neston MP, Justin Madders has called the Government to intervene to provide support to local high streets. Speaking at Communities and Local Government Questions in Parliament, Mr Madders also asked for a meeting with the Minister, Andrew Percy MP to discuss local plans.
While high streets are the responsibility of local Councils, they have faced extremely significant funding reductions, as well as a social care crisis, leaving little funding available to invest in improvements. The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimate that between 2010 and 2020 Local Government will have had their direct funding cut by 79%, while the Local Government Association estimate that Councils face an overall £5.8 billion funding gap by 2020.
Therefore, Mr Madders is calling on the Government to intervene and support local plans to tackle the significant vacancy rates on local high streets, which have suffered the impact of the financial crisis, as well as changes in shopping habits towards supermarkets, out of town developments and online.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Justin Madders MP said:
“High streets in my constituency continue to struggle, as they do up and down the country. My local authority does what it can, but the support it can give is limited. It needs Government intervention and support to make the necessary transformation. Will the Minister agree to meet me and other interested colleagues to see what can be done?”
Responding, the Local Government Minister, Andrew Percy MP said:
“I would be delighted to meet the hon. Gentleman. The business rate revaluation will have a positive impact for his constituents, and I discussed the issue of high street regeneration with the chair of his local enterprise partnership, Christine Gaskell, just before Christmas, but I am more than happy to meet him to discuss that. We are also looking at proposals that we are working up with Revo on how we can share best practice, because this is very much a varied picture across the country.”
Commenting afterwards, Justin said:
“In 2016, 15 shops closed each day in Britain and the number of new openings fell to the lowest level for five years, so the challenges that we are facing in Ellesmere Port and Neston are not unique.
There have been several positive initiatives locally, which have led to a number of units being occupied; however, ultimately these are short-term measures and without a commitment from the Government, it is difficult to see how future improvements will be secured.
I look forward to meeting with the Minister and calling on the Government to offer as much support as possible to turnaround our high streets.”