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Brandon Lewis announces extension of Future High Streets Forum to support and reflect the changing nature of high streets.
Pubs, hairdressers and restaurants have been at the heart of town centres for decades and will now work with government to help revive them, High Streets Minister Brandon Lewis announced today (13 December 2013).
Mr Lewis said he will extend membership of the Future High Streets Forum to include representatives from the hospitality, leisure, food and services sectors - all of which play a major role in the success of our high streets, providing local jobs and contributing billions to the UK economy.
The changes have been made to include these industries and showcase the wider role that town centres play as places where people come to shop, use services and spend their leisure time, including in the evenings.
The new forum members reflect the diverse make-up of the high street and give true insight, understanding and leadership on the challenges they currently face. They also bring a wealth of skills, experience and expertise. The members are:
Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pubs Association Mike Tye, Chief Executive Officer of the Spirit Pub Company Alison Bartlett, Head of Public Affairs at McDonald’s Hilary Hall, Chief Executive of the National Hairdressers’ Federation
The Future High Streets Forum brings together leading businesses, academics and local leaders to look at the challenges facing our town centres and to work with councils to build on what government has started. The extended membership means the forum will now represent a broader view of the high street and better reflect the day and evening economies.
The news comes a week after the billion pound package of support for the UK’s high streets was announced by the Secretary of State (6 December 2013) and the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement which gave small businesses the biggest package of business rates support in over 20 years.
High Streets Minister Brandon Lewis said:
The way we use our high streets is changing and we need to ensure they are places people want to spend their leisure time as well as shop. The Future High Streets Forum is an incredibly important part of the work we are doing to address challenges faced by the high street. And bringing representatives on board from such a variety of places will strengthen its community voice.
The new £1 billion high street support package includes new tax breaks for shops, sensible changes to parking rules and more power for councils. Our investment combined with the strong local leadership of the forum will help ensure high streets remain at the heart of our communities for decades to come.
Hilary Hall, Chief Executive of the National Hairdressers’ Federation, said:
We are delighted we have been asked to join the Future High Streets Forum. The National Hairdressers’ Federation represents 6,000 of the UK’s top hairdressers and barbers, the vast majority of them running small and micro salons. Our members are right at the heart of every high street and, as such, can offer a deep insight into what it is local high streets and local communities need.
Hairdressers are also passionate about service and customer experience, something the Mary Portas report highlighted as being at the core of the regeneration of the high street. Hairdressers are innovative, adaptable and creative, and we look forward to contributing to the important work being carried out by the forum.
Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association said:
I am very pleased to be joining the Future High Streets Forum. Pubs have a vital role to play in fostering vibrant high streets, the night-time economy, and supporting the entire leisure industry. They also have great expertise in what makes their local high street tick. I look forward to getting started.
The Future High Streets Forum brings together civic and business leaders across retail, property and hospitality sectors - big and small - including the Post Office, Boots UK, John Lewis, Costa, the British Independent Retailers Association, the Association of Town and City Management, the Association of Convenience Stores and the British Property Federation. The new members comprise:
- the National Hairdressers’ Federation is the biggest salon trade association in the the hairdressing, barbering and beauty industries.The industry contributes over £5 billion to the UK economy and employs over 250,000 people
- McDonald’s represents one of the biggest family restaurant businesses in the world, serving over 3 million customers a day in the UK
- British Beer & Pubs Association members account for 96% of beer brewed in Britain today, and own more than half of the nation’s pubs
- the Spirit Pub Company covers over 1,200 pubs nationwide
Two years on from the Portas Review, this government has put in place a wide range of measures to help the high street. The government has already invested £18 million to help high streets, including funding 24 Portas Pilots and 330 town teams. The funds have also provided expert business support through the High Street Champions initiative in partnership with Business in the Community.
Towns up and down the country are already taking action to rejuvenate their high streets, with Forest Hill getting 7 out of 10 empty high street shops back into use using short term leases, Braintree reducing parking charges to bring more than 44,000 extra cars to the high street, and Market Rasen setting up an award winning market that brings extra people to the high street.
The government is also creating the right conditions so councils, businesses and communities can work together to rejuvenate their town centres:
- cutting their national insurance and corporation tax.
- planning restrictions have been lifted to help landlords make better use of their empty properties, either by allowing them to lease for shorter periods, helping start-up businesses to set up in the high street, or by making it easier to turn commercial properties into residential facilities to increase resident population and local footfall
- we have changed the previous approach to setting parking fees to discourage car use and provide ‘maximum’ parking levels, have changed planning rules to allow councils to make decisions about parking requirements and fees in order to best meet local needs and issued guidance that encourages councils to attract shoppers by setting competitive parking charges, and to improve the quality of parking in town centres so that it is convenient, safe and secure
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