Shops high street

Town centres should have a ‘national perfect day’ when they strive to be as tidy and presentable as possible, according to a report on saving high streets.

Parking restrictions and charges should also be reviewed by local authorities to ensure they are encouraging footfall according to the report, from an expert panel established by high streets minister Jake Berry.

Chaired by Sir John Timpson, the High Streets Expert Panel recommends ‘one day in the year when every shopping street looks the best it possibly can’.

‘Everyone can improve high street and town centre housekeeping through a determined campaign to eliminate litter and graffiti,’ it says. ‘Our suggestion is to have a “National High Street Perfect Day”.’ The initiative should be locally led and funded, according to the report.

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To ensure they are not ‘driving people out of their town centres’ local authorities should ‘review their parking provision to make sure that existing restrictions and charges are working to support accessibility to local businesses, encouraging footfall and attracting customers to town centres and high streets’.

A £675m high street fund made available in the budget, following earlier recommendations from the panel, should ‘go to places that show a clear vision for their town centre’.

A system for measuring progress towards a defined goal should be established, using data to allow towns to compare their performance to others. ‘It is possible that each town place may wish to assess progress in their own way but there should be an aspiration to create some common measures that every project measures to enable comparison between towns,’ the reports says.

‘Against the changing environment for traditional retail it is pleasing that some places have bucked the trend,’ writes Sir John, chairman of Timpson.

’By replanning their town centre space, inspirational local leaders, working in collaboration with all sections of their community have put a buzz back into their town centre, reducing the number of empty shops and increasing footfall. Quite simply: making the town centre a place people want to be.

‘The lesson that government should learn from these shining examples is that by helping local teams with a viable vision to put their own plan into action, real change can happen. Reimagining our town centres should not be seen as a central programme dictated by government. It is a series of locally inspired and led initiatives that are supported by a government that offers information and helps to clear obstacles out of the way.’