A bold claim this but we can do it. We just need to think outside the box and be different… wait is that not the Ukip Mantra?
How many policies going back to 2010 have we come up with way ahead of our time and had them nicked from under our noses by Labour and more so the Tories. Let’s get busy again and make that difference. Let’s get the policy juices flowing and grow the interim manifesto which is very good and make it fantastic to mirror the resurgence of the party under Gerard.
The high streets of Great Britain are dying. The reasons for this are many and varied. Top of the list is the staggering growth of online shopping, coupled with car parking charges and the threat of crime. In the last twenty or so years, large out of town, free parking shopping centers based on the American shopping mall have also seriously impacted the high street. Also contributing is the extraordinarily large business rates for the even the most meagre size of shop. Charity shops signal the death of a town center or high street when you have two or more in the vicinity.
So, what can be done? Well, first of all, Local authorities have to relinquish the management of their high streets. Co-operatives of shopkeepers are best placed to manage their own environments. They can agree to a new coffee bar or charity shop or not. They can pay towards the upkeep, planting of shrubbery and set the standard of their own high streets.
Local authorities must be more proactive with offering cuts in rates payable for new start-ups, to give them a chance. Encourage entrepreneurship and assist financially, agreed business plans. Variety is the spice of life and the need to specialise, given the individual town’s history will help. Being inventive and different will encourage visitors.
High streets need to be a place to visit for not just shopping and something to eat; high streets need to be a place to go to be entertained. Blues, jazz and rock bars are always popular. Try to get in the Edinburgh, York or Leeds comedy clubs and you will be lucky without some serious forward planning. Art galleries, somewhere to go and express yourself through art. Dance schools. Offer a place for up and coming bands to hire rehearsal rooms. Recording studios. Pop up restaurants and bars are also popular. Encourage busking and street bands to perform instead of just at Xmas.
Variety has to be the way forward. Coupled with free parking and a clean feel safe environment and the high streets could be saved. It would also be prudent to cover large sections of the high streets to guard against the weather and ensure visitors a warm dry experience.
Globalisation is to the high street what foot and mouth was to the agricultural industry. This is where governments could act. The taxation of global companies such as Amazon and eBay with regards to retail is an enormous burden. This needs addressing.
Having stiffened and toughened the collection of the correct tax payable by these global companies step two should be encouraging through incentives for them to open high street stores, it has not done Argos any harm. It would be a job creator, a click and collect point. Popular items sold there and an interaction with their customer base they currently do not pursue or enjoy. Step three would be to reinvest that taxation in the high streets.
The alternative is the loss of the high street, yes things move on, modernization and change are to be embraced. The loss of many high street chains and the numbers of boarded up empty shops is a salutary warning. The high street is fast becoming a no-go area. An area that people look on now, not with fond memories and nostalgia, no they look upon the high street as a no-go area, a place to be visited only in a desperate rush for something of an emergency buy between the hours of nine and five. Their death and loss will be a great shame.
Ukip can lead the way here with some smart thinking and determination. I am sure some readers will disagree with my missive and deride what I have to say. Please do not do that, instead invest your energies in how you can too contribute and shape the high street of the future.
Lets, as we have done before, lead the way and be ahead of our time.