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Government launches review into future of British High Street


The Government has launched an independent review aimed at halting the ‘decline of the British High Street’.


Led by television presenter and retail consultant Mary Portas, the review will look at how to prevent the growth of ‘clone towns’ dominated by chain stores and how to boost small traders. It will also examine how to curb the increase in shop vacancy rates.


Latest figures suggest that vacancy rates have more than doubled to 14.5% on high streets over the past two years. The rise has been attributed to the ailing economy and a trend for retailers to move out of town or online.


As part of her review, Portas will visit a number of town centres and ‘engagement events’ across England. She will then report back to the Government on what it can do to ‘promote the development of more prosperous and diverse high streets’.


Launching the review, Portas said: ‘I am calling on businesses, local authorities and shoppers to contribute their ideas on how we can halt this decline in its tracks and create town centres that we can all be proud of.’


Meanwhile, the Prime Minister David Cameron said the high street should be ‘at the very heart of every community, bringing people together, providing essential services and creating jobs and investment’.


The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has welcomed the review but said the emphasis needs to be on ‘support-for-all rather than penalising success’.


‘High streets are the heart of local communities and economies, providing jobs and essential services but some are in trouble,’ commented BRC director general, Stephen Robertson.


‘The Government is right to recognise the future of our high streets cannot be left to chance but it must take a positive approach that supports retailers of all types and sizes’.