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Government drafts in Portas to advise on future of the high street

The Government has drafted in TV presenter Mary Portas to lead a review of the future of high street.

The controversial personality, famous for programmes such as Mary, queen of shops, will help “identify what government, local authorities and businesses can do to promote the development of more prosperous and diverse high streets.”

The project is part of the Government’s Growth Review, designed to promote economic growth “that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries”.

Prime minister David Cameron said: “The high street should be at the very heart of every community, bringing people together, providing essential services and creating jobs and investment so it is vital that we do all we can to ensure they thrive.

He said he was confident that Portas’s “no nonsense approach will help us to create vibrant and diverse town centres”.

Portas said: “With town centre vacancy rates doubling over the last two years the need to take action to save our high streets has never been starker”.

She will address issues such the problem of vacant shops and so-called clone-towns, look at “new business models for the high street that fit the needs of the modern shopper” and consider how to increase the number of small and independent retailers operating in local town centres.

The BRC welcomed the appointment but cautioned: “Independents are a vital part of an attractive retail mix but so are the big names. Ultimately it’s customers who have the power in retailing through the shopping choices they make. This review should not seek to restrict that choice by making life harder for any particular category of retailers.”

Readers' comments (3)

  • Excellent News - homogenous high streets are dull boring and contribute nothing to the "shopping experience". How many times have you heard "Which town am I in as it's just like every other town"? Whilst the BRC comment is understandable, specifically as their members are the "big names", surely a variety of offer on a high street benefits the "big names" just as much as the independent retailer? Now is the time to "save" our high streets - Good Luck Mary Portas.
    Glynn Alwyn-Jones.
    The International Fashion Federation

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  • Fan flippin tastic news ! About time someone had a look at whats going on and came up with a joined up approach....!

    Mary is intelligent and no nonsense - good choice !

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  • Angela Marshall

    With the internet, local shops will need to move with the times and be very competitive. However, selling unique brands, other than the typical high street brands, and allowing for the ageing population rather than latest fashions for the young will help the shopper have some choice. Will the government listen? Many regulations, laws will need to be adapted and the council rates reconsidered. Small businesses will also need guidance and help on setting businesses up. Guildford is a good example of a mixture of shops - large and small.

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