The Government has appointed Brandon Lewis as the new minister for high streets after Mark Prisk was sacked yesterday.
Lewis, who was appointed parliamentary undersecretary of state at the Department for Communities and Local Government in September 2012, has responsibilty for high streets, town centres and markets added to his remit in the wake of Prisk’s departure.
As part of the reshuffle, Kris Hopkins, Conservative MP for Keighley in West Yorkshire, has also joined the Department for Communities and Local Government as an undersecretary of state. His responsibilities will include housing plus local growth, cities and regeneration.
Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams will also take on some of Prisk’s responsibilities including building regulations and empty homes.
This morning Drapers reported there were concerns that the Government was neglecting the future of UK towns after the high street minister was sacked.
Prisk had been tasked with chairing the Future High Street Forum, which was set up six months ago in response to Mary Portas’ review of the high street.
Commenting on Lewis replacing Prisk, veteran retailer Bill Grimsey said the most important thing was to get the high street back on the agenda.
“High street policy desperately needs some fresh impetus, as it’s in danger of falling off the Government agenda,” he said. “Questions will obviously be asked as to whether the Future High Street Forum will continue and it’s starting to look like ministers are just paying lip service to the high street and doing next to nothing.
“With the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement just round the corner Brandon Lewis should make his first priority to push for an urgent review of business rates and the immediate reinstatement of the revaluation. That would make a big difference and show that high street policy is back on track. At the moment it’s looking completely rudderless.”