After months of headlines, debate and waiting, it finally arrived.
The Government’s response to the Portas Review on the future of the high street had promised change and progress, but for many it was a disappointing anti-climax.
Mary Portas should be congratulated for bringing vim to the task of invigorating our high streets and for making it a national debate.
Unfortunately, the Government failed to match her ambition and slammed the brakes on any progressive momentum. The messy fudge on car parking epitomised the paucity of ambition. Asking councils to “look closely” at parking charges is meaningless.
It didn’t help that this was followed with a High Street Innovation Fund to help tackle empty shops, which didn’t measure empty shops on the high street. Farcically, one local authority with two empty shops was a recipient of £100,000 while others with real empty shop problems missed out.
Yet there’s still much to be positive about. The passion shown by independents on town teams over the past few months is there for all to see in a showcase of Portas Pilot videos on YouTube. From humble beginnings, a powerful movement of indie ambassadors is emerging.
- Paul Turner-Mitchell, Owner of Rochdale young fashion indie 25 Ten Boutique.