The Labour Party has weighed in to the battle to rescue the UK’s ailing high streets with a new Save Our High Streets campaign.
Launching the initiative yesterday, Labour said the government needed to act urgently to help retailers, protect jobs and give people a say over what happens in their local high street.
Save Our High Streets proposes a temporary cut in VAT to 17.5%, and the introduction of a retail diversity planning clause that would allow retailers and residents input over any local retail plans.
Labour also wants to see a “competition test” in the planning system that would ensure a level playing field between small and large shops. And it wants the government to implement its empty shops initiative to allow councils to pursue innovative uses for vacant premises.
Shadow local government minister Jack Dromey said: “We need to put the heart back into Britain’s high streets. Labour wants to give communities a real say over the future of their high street and the power to make the changes they want.
“Healthy and diverse high streets are the heart of local communities. The Tory-led government should change course – they need to support growth and jobs by backing Labour’s four-point action plan to revive the high street.”
He added: “One of the things I hear from my constituents is how the character of the local high street has changed. The high street is not what it once was, they say. And I know many other MPs hear the same – we want to put that right.”
Retail expert Mary Portas was appointed by the government earlier this year to advise on the future of high streets and is expected to deliver her report in a few months’ time.