Help To Fill Empty Shops In UK high Streets
28th April 2009
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This communication from the Leicestershire Chamber of Trade and Commerce

These measures are being published in a practical guide Looking after our Town Centres identifies the best ways and steps communities can take to keep town centres thriving.

The Government will introduce new rules soon to give existing shops that serve the community such as local post offices and pubs extra protections. These steps are part of wider action to help business during the downturn.

Hazel Blears said:

"Town centres are the heartbeat of every community and businesses are the foundation so it is vital that they remain vibrant places for people to meet and shop throughout the downturn.

"Empty shops can be eyesores or crime magnets. Our ideas for reviving town centres will give communities the know how to temporarily transform vacant premises into something innovative for the community - a social enterprise, a showroom for local artists or an information centre - and stop the high street being boarded up.

"Our town centre first planning rules and business rate deferments are also helping small businesses in more direct ways during this difficult time."

Culture Secretary Andy Burnham said:

"Culture and creativity are part of the answer to tough economic times. Liverpool's success as European Capital of Culture showed what culture can do to build people and places and create a sense of confidence and pride. I believe that, now more than ever, we should play to our strengths as a creative nation.

"Nobody wants to see town centres fade and decay. By transforming otherwise empty town centre premises into hubs for culture and creativity, we can regenerate both the physical space itself and the hope and ambition of all those that have a stake in them. And in the longer term, by giving people the opportunity to develop we stand a good chance of creating something of lasting benefit, not just for those individuals but also for our economy as we move out of this recession."

Skills Secretary John Denham added:

"We want to make sure that our town and city centres continue to be vibrant and at the heart of our communities. In our recent White Paper, the 'Learning Revolution' Government laid out how it will continue to support informal adult learning which we know has benefits beyond the pleasure of learning in its self.

"We don't want to see space such as unused shops on our high streets go to waste, especially when we know that people can put that space to good use for meeting up and learning for fun. Today's revival plan will give our communities the tools they need to reinvigorate unused space".

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said:

"Town centres should be the heart of a community and the public have a right to feel safe as they go about their business. For the first time every town centre now has its own neighbourhood policing team and the new Policing Pledge entitles the public to demand action on local issues that matter to them. I encourage everyone to get involved with their local neighbourhood policing team and help to improve their town centres."

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