Seema Malhotra, the MP for Feltham and Heston and Shadow Minister for Business and Consumers, has defended high streets against a background of Tory neglect and mismanagement of our community centres.
Speaking in Parliament she said:
“Good high streets are anchors of community life, where neighbours come together. They employ so many in the local community: an estimated 14% of the UK workforce works on the high street, in civic centres, leisure centres, cafés, offices, banks, post offices and so on. Our high streets reflect and shape the character of the places they are in. They are the backbone of what Labour calls the everyday economy, they are central to our growth agenda for the local and national economy, and they are a space for local entrepreneurship and community businesses…
“The decline of the high street is a problem we have been aware of throughout the Government’s time in power. They even commissioned the Portas review, but in August Mary Portas hit out at the Government for their dither and delay while high streets faced what she called the “biggest proper crisis” she has seen. Last year, the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee criticised the Tories’ current solutions, such as town deals, the towns fund and the high street taskforce, as “too complex, short-term, and fragmented”.
“They do not come anywhere near to making up for 12 years of local authority underfunding, let alone a strategy for regenerating our high streets and supporting businesses to achieve net zero.