Following the huge response to the Great British High Streets competition towns and villages are being urged to make one of their resolutions to enter this year’s awards. The awards will be going ahead for a second year High Streets Minister Penny Mordaunt confirmed today (15 January 2015).
The decision to extend the scheme, which will give people another chance to showcase their wares and share tips for success with others, was down to the enthusiasm for the awards shown by traders, businesses and local communities.
The High Streets Minister announced the competition would go ahead again on a visit to Belper in Derbyshire, which was named best market town and overall champion in last year’s competition.
The Great British High Street competition has been instrumental in highlighting new and innovative ways to boost our shopping streets and town centres and provides a platform for sharing ideas that other places keen to rejuvenate their high streets can learn from.
High Streets Minister Penny Mordaunt said:
I’ve have been bowled over by the pride, passion, and enthusiasm people have for their high streets and the value they place on them as an essential part of their community.
We are a nation of shopkeepers and the Great British High Street competition will continue to share best practice to rejuvenate the high street, as well as reward the talent and drive of those working behind the scenes to make it happen.
There was such enthusiasm for the competition last year, from towns like Belper, that it makes sense to hold it again so we can all learn more new ways to place high streets back at the heart of our communities.
The minister urged people to start thinking about the competition now ahead of details on the categories and how to enter being announced later in the year.
The contest showcases the work happening on the ground by many communities and shopkeepers that is helping high streets evolve into places that are at the heart of the community, where people want to shop and socialise.
The many successful examples from last year’s competition have been pulled together in a how-to guide so other towns and villages keen to rejuvenate their streets can gleam pointers.
The government is committed to supporting high streets as part of its long-term economic plan and has provided local shops and businesses with a billion pound package of investment that includes targeted business rate discounts, sensible planning changes and action that reins in over-zealous parking practices.
The national competition will be run by the Future High Streets Forum. Further details about the competition and the categories will be announced later this year.
The government has taken a series of steps to help local firms with business rates including:
- doubling small business rate relief since 2010; this has been extended for another year to 2016 – supporting 575,000 of the smallest businesses; 385,000 business will pay no rates at all
- allowing small firms to keep their small business rate relief where they take on a second property, helping them expand
- making small business rate relief easier to claim
- increasing the £1,000 business rate discount available in 2014 to 2015 to a £1,500 discount in 2015 to 2016 for shops, pubs and restaurants with a Rateable Value of up to £50,000, helping 278,000 firms
- a 50% discount for 18 months to new occupants of vacant shops, bringing them back into use
- a 2% cap in Retail Price Index increase in business rates for a second year – benefitting 1.3 million properties
- giving ratepayers a new legal right to pay bills over 12 instalments (rather than 10), helping firms with their cash flow
- implementing the local retention of business rates, giving councils a direct financial incentive to support business, and ensuring the government funds for 50% of all council discretionary discounts
- blocking the imposition of even higher business rates on large shops
The government is committed to reining-in overzealous parking. In June 2014 we published a range of measures designed to help local shops, support drivers and give communities a greater say on parking policies which include:
- making it illegal to use closed circuit television (CCTV) ‘spy cars’ alone to enforce on-street parking ending the plague of parking tickets by post
- introducing mandatory 10 minute ‘grace periods’ at the end of on-street paid for and free parking; councils and parking adjudicators, who rule on penalty charge notice appeals, would be obliged to follow the new statutory guidance; any breach would be deemed an illegal fine and trigger a refund
- trialing a 25% discount for motorists who lose an appeal against a parking ticket at tribunal on the full price of their parking ticket
- change guidance so motorists parking at an out-of-order meter are not fined if there are no alternative ways to pay
- reforming operational parking guidance so it is less heavy handed with motorists, prevents over-aggressive action by bailiffs, positively supports local shops and clearly reinforces the prohibition against parking being used to generate profit
- proposing a widening of the powers of parking adjudicators - this could include, for example, measures to protect drivers where adjudicators have repeatedly identified a problem at a specific location, such as inadequate signage, and parking tickets have repeatedly been issued - in such circumstances, potential measures could see adjudicators allowed to direct an authority to stop issuing tickets or direct the authority to change the signage, or indeed both
- updating guidance so the public know when they can be awarded costs at tribunals
- increasing parking transparency so councils are required to publish how income from parking charges is being used, including a new statutory transparency code
- maintaining a freeze on parking penalty charges for the remainder of this Parliament