So here’s an idiot idea

Retailers are currently closing stores at a faster rate than during the recession, but despite the underlying issues being well rehearsed, no coherent plan has emerged to tackle high-street decline. Some 50,000 stores are deemed surplus to requirements and MPs have recently launched a fresh inquiry, with the goal of drawing up a vision of what high streets and town centres could look like by 2030. There is no shortage of brain power being devoted to this emotive subject; retail guru Bill Grimsey is currently leading a taskforce that is revisiting his influential 2013 review. But while MPs and retail experts bang their heads together, the pace of decline only accelerates.

Why not just liberalise the planning laws and see what happens?

19 comments on “So here’s an idiot idea

  1. From the article:

    The rise in the legal minimum wage and imposition of the apprenticeship levy have also pushed up costs, as has a rise in business rates this year.

    Aren’t these things the Graudian pushed for to equalise society and provide more NHS?

    Not that they have a problem with being correct despite being on both opposing sides of the argument.

  2. There’s a housing shortage. If people lived on the High St instead of thousands of charity shops, you would have customers in the surviving shops not waiting for online deliveries plus the enthusiastic pedestrianisation of the country’s market towns would now make sense by adding the requisite pedestrians to enjoy them.

  3. The council is the agent killing the high street. Parking charges, bus lanes, rates, petty officialdom. There seems to be no awareness that they are bleeding the cash cow to death.

  4. Yarp. I drive all over the place for work, to towns and cities. The hostility to drivers, perhaps especially to out-of-town drivers, is palpable. It’s a mystery to me how town centre commercial premises, particularly the non-chains, survive at all.

  5. ‘There is no shortage of brain power being devoted to this emotive subject; retail guru Bill Grimsey is currently leading a taskforce that is revisiting his influential 2013 review. But while MPs and retail experts bang their heads together, the pace of decline only accelerates.’

    MPs. Retail experts.

    What about actual retailers?

    What about asking actual retailers, “What can we do to help you?” Because they can’t have actual retailers tell the world that the MPs are the problem.

    “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem, government IS the problem.”

    ― Ronald Reagan

  6. Agree with Tom about liberalising the planning laws. Would go further and liberalise laws. Especially those pertaining to khat, cannabis, smoking in clubs and pubs and and knocking shops which mean those activities take place illegally in residential areas.
    But no, the Nanny State has muscled in and intends to trash the high street further by stopping new takeaway food shops opening and by imposing restrictions that will close betting shops.

  7. Retailers are wary of taking on leases without sufficient footfall. There’s a small arcade a few miles from me, used to be lovely about 20 years ago. Then shops started shutting and now no retailers occupy the arcade. Cannot get new retailers as there’s nothing to draw people into the arcade.

    Further down that high street with good footfall there are several empty shops that have been empty some time. Great for very small retailers, no good for anyone wanting display space or ability to let wheelchairs into the shop. Small – 250 square feet or so. Sounds a lot? That includes toilet, storage space and till area.

  8. Some councils have pretty much engineered the destruction of their town centres themselves, without any help from wider economic forces. I go down to Haverfordwest in west Wales on a regular basis to visit friends, in the decade I’ve been going the town council have allowed large out of town retail parks to spring up, thereby taking large amounts of trade from the town centre, and having decimated that have now decided that they should impose parking charges on the one free car park near the town centre. So unsurprisingly the town centre is now a ghost town of empty units, charity shops and the usual retail detritus of a town centre in terminal decline.

  9. Can I hazard a guess as to which political party runs the council in Haverfordwest? Would it be one that would happily support the murder of 100s of millions of people to keep their scum mates in power?

  10. Pembokeshire Council is currently:
    Independent (not a member of the Independent Group) 20
    Independent Group 14
    Conservative 11
    Labour 7
    Plaid 6
    LibDem 1
    It is currently run by an Independent (namotig)-Independent coalition.

  11. Ah, miscounted the listing on the council website. The Independent Group are the opposition, the council cabinet is an Independent (namotig)-Labour-Conservative-Plaid-LibDem coalition with an Independent (namotig) council leader.

  12. Mr Yan,

    Outside big cities, and especially in rural areas, its more informative to ask about the profession and/or interests of local politicians.

  13. And here’s another crazy idea…
    Maybe “highstreet shops” could actually sell stuff people *want*. This might help a great deal, y’know.

    Here in the Netherlands a couple of Big Names have fallen over in the past 5 years, 8 if you count the magazine/”online” retailers.
    Their dissection is damning: complete and utter failure to establish themselves in the internet market segment. Product lines that were so ..conservatively oldfashioned.. even grannies wouldn’t buy.
    Lowest-bidder quality at premium rates.
    Stuff you can literally find everywhere at premium rates.
    Product selections that didn’t change over decades, even while the market and consumer preference changed.
    And that’s just the shop.. Keeping up the “valued lifetime employer” gig while treating your staff like shit really doesn’t help.. People *will* talk…

    But hey… must be the Gub’mint/Council/Intarwebs. Nothing to do with disastrous management decisions at all…

  14. “Outside big cities, and especially in rural areas, its more informative to ask about the profession and/or interests of local politicians.”

    And what company they keep…… my friends tell me Pembs local politics is riddled with the funny handshake brigade, all feathering each others nests. Its what happens when the biggest source of money locally is the State – there’s no great industry down there, the best way to ‘get on’ is to get some sort of State regional subsidy or contract, and the way to do that is to join the Lodge and make friends with the right people.

  15. @jgh
    More accurate:
    Conservative 11
    Left 14
    Ind(?) 14

    .
    Yes, Councils & Gov’t are to blame for town centre shops closing: rates, tax, bans/restrictions/obligations, parking, charity subsidy….

    Retail “experts” like Portas solution is: organic, artisan, local, sustainable, hand-crafted, green… – ie expensive tat. [see BBC The Archers]

  16. The real question is the internet. It doesn’t matter what you do, if people want to shop on line the high street is screwed:

    You know, at one time, there must’ve been dozens of companies making buggy whips. And I’ll bet the last company around was the one that made the best god-damn buggy whip you ever saw. Now how would you have liked to have been a stockholder in that company? You invested in a business and this business is dead. Let’s have the intelligence, let’s have the decency to sign the death certificate, collect the insurance, and invest in something with a future! ‘Ah, but we can’t,’ goes the prayer. ‘We can’t because we have responsibility, a responsibility to our employees, to our community. What will happen to them?’ I got two words for that – ‘Who cares?’ Care about them? Why? They didn’t care about you. They sucked you dry. You have no responsibility to them. For the last ten years, this company bled your money. Did this community ever say, ‘We know times are tough. We’ll lower taxes, reduce water and sewer.’ Check it out: You’re paying twice what you did ten years ago. And our devoted employees, who have taken no increases for the past three years, are still making twice what they made ten years ago. And our stock – one-sixth of what it was ten years ago. ‘Who cares?’ I’ll tell ya — Me.

  17. A pub in my town had a business rates rise of over £100,000. I reckon you could fit fifty people in there if they didn’t mind the crowding. It will put the pub out of business, and a pub has been there for at least 400 years.

    Government, whether national or local, are duplicitous, rapacious cunts.

  18. And what company they keep…… my friends tell me Pembs local politics is riddled with the funny handshake brigade, all feathering each others nests.

    And it’s been like that for decades too. Half the time they’re all related to one another.

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