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Mary Portas sets out plans for retail rescue

A national market day, tax on out of town car parks and a team of high street managers are suggestions expected to form part of Mary Portas’ Government report on the future of the high street when it is published tomorrow.

The TV personality, famous for programmes such as Mary Queen of Shops, will set out more than 30 recommendations as part of her report to help create vibrant and diverse town centres.

In May, the Government drafted in Portas to lead a review of the future of the high street and help identify what government, local authorities and businesses can do to promote the development of more prosperous and diverse high streets.

Over the last seven months, Portas has visited towns across the UK to find out how various regions are suffering or prospering to including the findings in her report, published tomorrow. The retail guru is expected to urge local councils to work closely with retailers to create a brand identity for local high streets.

The Sunday Telegraph reports that Portas’ recommendations will include cutting regulations such as restrictions on deliveries during the night and noise to help create a more flexible and attractive business environment. She will also suggest a stronger “town centre first” policy, which could mean planning restrictions for retailers choosing out of town locations if options in town centres are possible.

A National Market Day is another proposal, with the idea that market stalls will give entrepreneurs a chance to try out ideas and get businesses going without major cost. This in turn will bring in fresh ideas and products, and by attracting customers, will help create footfall for shops.

According to The Independent, Portas will suggest that ministers appoint high street managers. Portas will also suggest that relaxing licensing rules for setting up market stalls will help grow the number of stands in town centres. It has also been reported that Portas will suggest there should be a tax on car parks at out of town shopping centres.

Speaking to the Independent, Richard Dodd, head of media and campaigns for the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said: “Based on what we are hearing this weekend, it seems there are a good number of sensible ideas in the report which, if taken together and adopted, could make a difference to many of our troubled high streets.”

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