The Welsh Liberal Democrats today called for a new approach to regenerating town centres and high streets across Wales.
Visitng Llanidloes with Lord Carlile, the former Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Wyn Williams, the Welsh Liberal Democrats candidate for Montgomeryshire put forward proposals to begin the renewal of high streets and town centres across Wales by:
· Freezing business rates for a year while we reform them completely.
· Giving councils more powers to require an impact assessment of large supermarket developments.
· Cutting red tape for small businesses by introducing a ‘one-in-one-out’ rule whereby no new regulation is brought in without other regulation being cut by a greater amount.
· Improving conditions for businesses in town centres by allowing local authorities to regenerate areas through Tax Increment Financing.
· Streamlining inspection of businesses by co-ordinating and minimising the number of visits. We’ll also target repeat offenders and inspect compliant businesses less, with the aim of co-operative compliance rather than prosecution.
· Re-regulating the buses to improving transport access to town centres.
· Re-opening closed stations such as Bow Street, Carno and Towyn and Kinmel Bay and seek powers over the maintenance of railway stations, so we can require all new stations and major refurbishments to improve accessibility, safety and act as a community hub.
Wyn Williams, Welsh Liberal Democrats candidate for Montgomeryshire said:
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats are focusing relentlessly on boosting economic growth across all of Wales.
“A busy and thriving high street is good for the community and good for the local economy but too many of our high streets have either become ghost towns or clone towns – empty and identical.
“Welsh Liberal Democrat plans would give local authorities new powers to drive regeneration across Wales funded out of the business rates that they will receive from our financial plans. Our plans will also ensure that local shops are not killed off by new supermarket developments and offer business rates that don’t strangle small and local businesses.
“After years of campaigning, the Lib Dems in Government have been able to stop any more post offices from closing. But we need independent shops as well. These businesses form the backbone of many Welsh town centres. They are good for our economy and good for our community.
“These are serious and important proposals that will allow local communities the chance to develop high streets and town centres that can compete in the 21st century. If we don’t implement our proposals, many of our beautiful town centres will be eroded even further.”