Liberal Democrats in Winchester & Chandler’s Ford have set out plans to revitalise Britain’s high streets, protect the future of the Post Office, and help small businesses establish and grow in a fairer marketplace.
The announcement comes as research shows one in eight shops is now empty after the recession. The report, published by the Local Data Company (LDC), says that vacancies shot up by 24% in the second half of 2009.
Vacancies in Winchester in December 2009 were 9.1% – below the national average of around 12.5% – in line with Basingstoke and Reading – better than Southampton (16.3%), but significantly worse than Salisbury (5.0%) and Chichester (5.7%).
Martin Tod, Prospective Liberal Democrat MP for Winchester & Chandler’s Ford said:
“Even though our vacancy rate is below average, we can’t afford to be complacent. Other cathedral cities like Salisbury and Chichester are doing much better than we are.
“Even before the credit crunch hit, we’d lost too many small independent shops from Winchester’s High Street.
“The Government’s skewed planning system has seen almost every high street in Britain end up as an identical collection of chain stores and coffee shops.
“We need a thriving high street in Winchester, one with real character that allows local businesses to survive and grow.
“Our economy has suffered from treating the City of London as the most important part of our economy at the expense of everything else. We need to give greater focus to small business. Small businesses are the biggest engine for new jobs and will be the key for building a healthy and distinctive High Street for Winchester.”
Commenting, Nick Clegg said:
“Thriving high streets are at the heart of local communities.
“But it has been our high streets that have borne the brunt of this recession, with boarded up shops scarring towns and villages across Britain.
“I believe that people value the wide range of goods and services available locally and want to see their high streets thrive and prosper.”