The Welsh Liberal Democrats are today launching a package of radical policies to revitalise Wales’ struggling high streets.
In government, the party would establish ‘High Street Wales’ to empower people to drive the regeneration of their local communities and tackle dereliction and decay. Based on the ‘Main Street’ movement in America, it would offer education, hands-on-training, online resources, facilitating connections and conferences to share best practice and build strong communities.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats will also give more powers to communities by introducing a ‘Community Right to Bid’ so people can work together to protect key local services such as libraries, post offices or pubs.
Other initiatives proposed in the report being published today include:
- a new ‘Reoccupation Relief Scheme’ – slashing business rates by 50% for new occupants of premises that have been empty for a year;
- tackling the proliferation of betting shops by giving them their own use class to give local communities greater say over where they are placed;
- a statutory requirement to consider walking and cycling at an early stage in new development schemes to ensure a more accessible and pleasant high street environment;
- supporting the development of Business Improvement Districts with the development of a BID learning network to share lessons and support the development of future BIDs; and
- encouraging local authorities to offer limited free parking schemes near the town centre to support struggling high streets.
You can read the full report below, and back the plan by clicking here.
Eluned Parrott AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Economy Minister, said:
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats are offering fresh, innovative and enterprising ideas to revive our high streets.
“Having a devolved government offers huge potential to be creative in supporting our local high streets, yet Labour has failed miserably with shop vacancy rates in Wales consistently above the UK average.
“Our ‘High Street Wales’ policy would empower people to drive the regeneration of their local communities and tackle dereliction and decay.
“We will also put powers back into the hands of local people by enabling them the opportunity to save key local services.
“The Labour Welsh Government has been content to sit back and witness the decline of our high streets; this complacency must end. The retail sector is Wales’ largest private-sector employer and high streets are vital in supporting the many jobs that it offers.
“We recognise that high streets and town centres are more than just economic hubs; they also strengthen the social fabric of our communities. It is time for new ideas to regenerate town centres and the Welsh Liberal Democrats would ensure that enterprise is at the heart of a Welsh Government.”