Marks and Spencer
Marks and Spencer's old site in Portsmouth now boarded up.

This used to be a Marks and Spencer in Portsmouth City Centre. Open for over a hundred years, it was recently closed. Seemingly ignorant of the irony, the council had the phrase ‘shop til you drop’ painted professionally over the boards. The only problem is that beyond charity and betting shops there are increasingly few shops left.

Our high streets are at crisis point. Many retailers are struggling with high business rates, rising rents and the disadvantage they suffer compared to online retailers. It doesn’t have to be like this, but the government has chosen to sit back and allow our high streets to disintegrate.

Labours five point plan to revive our High Streets includes reforms to the business rates system to ease the burden on traditional high streets and town centres, Rebecca Long Bailey, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, has called on the Government to consider:

  • Establishing a register of landlords of empty shops in each local authority, to make it easier to bring boarded up shops back into use.
  • Launching an inquiry into excessive car parking charges levied by private firms, to examine the benefits of promoting free parking in city centres

Labours five point plan to revive our High Streets also include;

  • Ban ATM charges and stop bank branch and post office closures
  • Provide free bus travel for under-25s
  • Free public wifi in town centres

However it’s not just central government that can play a role Local government can play a role in reviving our towns and cities as well: through having public institutions, like hospitals and schools, procuring services ONLY from local businesses, like in Preston; through helping co-operatives and worker-owned businesses; and through changing the experience of the high street – from one dotted with identikit chains paying poverty wages – to one where local people can have a shot at starting their own business.

For now, however, we have this. That’s why the people of Pompey need to vote Labour on 2nd of May. Pompey for the many, not the few.

Find out more about Charlotte and why she’s standing by clicking here

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