Save Our High Streets


Schools out and the summer holidays have started. Many will be grateful for some rest, relaxation and time to think.

Last November Chancellor George Osborne was boasting the economic recovery is on track but since then it has flatlined.

Like other countries we must reduce our deficit. But it has to be done at a responsible pace that does not choke growth.

The Chancellor, however, is cutting too far and too fast and is putting jobs at risk.

Nowhere is this more evident than on our high streets.

Look around and what do you see? Boarded-up shops growing in number as confidence falls and people feel the pinch.

Shops all over the country have been affected and 50,000 units are currently empty.

Jane Norman went under last month, Carpetright shut 75 stores and Habitat put 30 premises into administration. Thousands of people have lost their jobs.

Will Mr Osborne change tack given the circumstances? Not a chance. There is absolutely no question of us coming off our plan, he said this week.

Meanwhile Business Secretary Vince Cable has appointed Mary Portas to look at what should be done to create more prosperous high streets, even though it doesn't look like the Chancellor will give him a chance to implement her recommendations.

So what is to be done? Today, Labour is launching a four-point plan to save our high streets.

It will prevent more shops being boarded up.

And it will give £5million, raised from a repeat of the bank bonus tax, to councils to transform units that are already empty into cultural, community or learning centres.

Shops are not just businesses, they are part of the fabric of society.

The Government should not be abandoning them it should act.