Dated policies and an unfair tax regime must be reformed to create an environment that will allow high streets and town centres to flourish in the future, a report published by Parliament’s Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has found.
The report has been welcomed by Stephen Morgan MP, who has been calling for action on Portsmouth’s dwindling high streets.
The committee’s report sets out a bold vision for the high street based on locally led strategies, developed with local communities and businesses at the centre, and reflective of evolving commercial and economic patterns.
City MP Stephen Morgan has been calling on the government to act to bring our high streets back from from the brink, and urging action locally by the council.
Responding to the report, the Portsmouth South MP said:
“I welcome the select committee’s call on the Government to initiate reform in key planning and taxation areas.
This must include the options of an online sales tax and reforms to business rates, to allow high streets to adapt to changing demand, and compete with online retailers such as Amazon on a level playing field”.
The select committee says high streets and town centres must adapt, transform and find a new focus in order to survive.
“Business rates are stacking the odds against high street retailers. The Government must initiate reforms to provide meaningful relief to high street retailers, including giving consideration to proposals for an online sales tax to level the playing field.
Achieving large-scale structural change will require intervention led by our council, in collaboration with business and local communities, backed by funding and new powers from central government.
The Government can do more, and our council can do better. We need ambitious leadership on the city council which has the foresight to develop a strategy which reflects local concerns and drives the large-scale transformation Portsmouth’s shopping areas so desperately need”.
Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, Clive Betts MP added:
“In recent years, high streets and town centres have faced extremely challenging times.
We have seen the collapse of a number of well-known, national high street chains, with many more undergoing restructuring or being bought out. The growth of online shopping has profoundly changed retail in the UK, and the knock-on impact on high streets has been stark.
It is likely that the heyday of the high street primarily as a retail hub is at an end. However, this need not be its death knell.
Local authorities must get to grips with the fact that their town centres need to change; they need to innovate, setting out a long-term strategy for renewal, reconfiguring the town centre and finding new ways of using buildings and encouraging new independent retailers”.