‘Queen of Shops’ visits Sparkbrook to launch High Street review

By on 22/06/2011 in News

Newly appointed leader of a Government commissioned independent review into the High Street, 'Queen of Shops' Mary Portas, today spent the first afternoon in her new role visiting shopkeepers in the Sparkbrook and Springfield areas of Birmingham.

During her visit TV star Portas spoke to a range of traders about their thoughts on the future of the High Street, what support was already available to them in Birmingham, and in what areas they felt they needed more support in order to survive and succeed in the long term.

The Government review (announced yesterday) will seek to identify what government, local authorities and businesses can do to promote the development of more prosperous and diverse high streets.

It will also form part of the Government's wider Growth Review which is examining how it can remove the barriers to achieve strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries.

Mary said: “”With town centre vacancy rates doubling over the last two years, the need to take action to save our high streets has never been starker.

“I am calling on businesses, local authorities and shoppers to contribute to their ideas on how we can halt this decline in its tracks and create town centres that we can all be proud of.”

Cllr Timothy Huxtable, Cabinet Member for Transport, Environment and Regeneration at Birmingham City Council, said: “Local High Streets not only provide the lifeblood of our economy, but are also often the hub of local communities themselves, meaning it crucial that we do all we can to support and enhance them.

“While there undoubtedly pockets of good initiatives underway within many shopping centres, such as Sparkbrook and Springfield already, I really hope Mary's work can further enhance these efforts and share the very best ideas and practices around the whole country.”

  • As part of her review Portas will advise on how Government, businesses and shoppers can:
  • Address the problem of vacant shops
  • Adopt new business models for the high street that fit the needs of the modern shopper.
  • Prevent the proliferation of 'clone towns'
  • Increase the number of small and independent retailers doing business in local town centres.

 The review was launched at an engagement eent held at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Mary will present the review to the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Edward Davey, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), by autumn 2011.

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