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Tories unveil plan to tackle indie decline

The Conservative party has released proposals for an action plan to help support independent retailers.

The party has published a report highlighting the state of the UK’s high streets and the threats faced by independent retailers, the findings of which could become Tory party policy.

The report, A Strategy for Successful Community Hubs, was carried out by a dedicated commission, and blamed rising parking charges, isolated ring road developments, out-of-town schemes, poor planning and anti- social behaviour for the decline of the independent retailer.

Conservative MP for Northampton South, Brian Binley, said he had highlighted six recommendations to put forward to the party’s policy-making process.

A spokesman for Binley said: “I am confident that at least some [of the recommendations] will be made policy.”
The Tory party estimates that 2,000 small shops close each year. Last year the party set up the commission to study the threats independent traders face and identify ways to help them.

Binley said: “Our town and city centres lie at the heart of our communities and are as vital to their health as the heart is to the body. Over the past 30 years, the centres of many of our communities have suffered a gradual, but persistent, decline.”

“Often I hear people say their town centre is a mess, and in the very next breath add that the country is going downhill, almost as though the two were directly linked. The most obvious symptom of this decline is the near disappearance of the independent small retailer from our high streets.”

The commission comprised of MPs, industry experts – including John Dean, chief executive of the British Shops and Stores Association – and representatives from the police.

The Labour party was unavailable for comment.

How the Tories plan to save indies:

  1. Play a leadership role in promoting town management partnership initiatives that encourage local communities to work together to protect and improve the quality of their high streets.

  2. Allow local councils to ensure out-of-town retail developments work with, not against, the needs of local communities.

  3. Encourage more local authorities to promote joint initiatives with businesses and the police to tackle crime and disorder.

  4. Seek to preserve the conditions in which small retailers can compete fairly, in recognition that unfair trade disadvantages are disproportionately damaging to the small independent retailer.

  5. Encourage councils to give stronger consideration to the impact of parking provision and charging on the vitality of high streets and town centres.

  6. Review business rates and rent arrangements, with a view to ensuring they are fair to independent retailers.

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