News has broken that Portsmouth’s bid for £50 million as part of the Government’s future High Streets Fund has failed.
The fund, designed to support local areas’ plans to make their high streets and town centres fit for the future, would have been welcome as the city has faced major high street closures in recent times.
Stephen Morgan MP said:
“I have long argued that the Government needs to do better, and the council do more, to bring our city’s high streets back from the brink.
Only this weekend we saw Knight & Lee and Portsmouth say good bye, with Debenhams set to go next and other stores in our city under threat.
We need a bold and ambitious plan to revitalise our city’s shopping centres, which is why Portsmouth Labour submitted positive budget proposals to get to the heart of the problem. Sadly, the Tories and Lib Dems voted it down, and continue to neglect our communities.
Raising the issue directly with the Prime Minister, hosting a roundtable with businesses to find solutions, calling for business rate reform, submitting parliamentary questions and writing to the Council Leader, I will continue to put pressure on the Government to invest and the Council to show leadership, to sort this pressing issue for Portsmouth once and for all”.
Portsmouth’s high streets have faced trying times, losing a number of major retail pillars and leaving the flourishing independent shopping scene vulnerable now that there is less footfall.
The Portsmouth MP has backed Labour’s five-point plan to reinvigorate the high street, including a major overhaul of the current business rates system.
Mr Morgan said:
“A major contributing factor to the decline of the high streets is the outdated and broken business rates system, we need to bring the current system into the 21st century.
That is why I proudly support Labour’s 5-point plan which would see a major overhaul and an end to retailers being hit unfair and unsustainable fees.”
Labours 5-point plan also includes free bus travel for all under 25s, free WIFI in city centres, an end to ATM charges and would establish a register of landlords of empty shops in each local authority.