Community / 11 July 2016

The Great British High Streets competition launch

On Thursday morning Marcus Jones MP, the Minister with responsibilities for high streets, town centres and markets (as well as community pubs), launched the 2016 Great British High Streets competition, with a visit and launch at the Camden Business Improvement District. Much to my amusement the building was originally built as a Temperance Hospital! He was joined by Simon Roberts, the CEO of Boots in the UK and together they jointly chair the High Street’s Executive Board.

I am chairman of the High Street’s Partnership Working Group which has been responsible for encourage companies to sign up to the business pledge, promising at a local level to engage managers in active and strategic leadership of the high street; helping to deliver more employment opportunities, renewed pride in the high street and better local connections for national businesses, all with an objective of achieving greater investment, increases in long term footfall and jobs growth.

Over 40 companies have signed the pledge and together they represent over 22,000 outlets, plus 11,500 post offices. There is certainly more scope for other companies to join in, and the list of signatories can now be found on the Great British High Streets website.

The High Street’s Competition is now in its fourth year and I have been a judge for the last two. There are nine categories from village to city centre; the market town category was so popular last year that it has now been split into two. There is a rising star category along with four individual awards.

In Camden, we were joined by Rotherham, winner of last year’s Town Centre Category, who talked about why they won, discussing their investment in the historic core of Rotherham. They also discussed Rotherham’s pop-up shops, and a grant scheme aimed at reducing the cost of rents, and finally Rotherham’s national skills academy for retail. They revealed that as a result of their efforts, the high street was now fully let.

I gave examples of the great practice I saw as a judge in Bishops Waltham, Colwyn Bay, London Road Brighton, Raynes Park, Tamworth, Bognor Regis and Bath Place in Taunton.

Full details of this year’s competition can be found here. Everyone has a role to play to encourage your high streets to enter. It is exciting, rewarding, engaging, and locally based. Colleagues will enjoy it and see tangible results, and I urge you to nominate your local high street.

Written by

Brigid Simmonds

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