Monday, March 18, 2019

Liberal Democrats demand action to save Britain’s town centres

The Liberal Democrat federal conference approved a comprehensive plan to end the crisis on Britain’s high streets

The party’s plans are set out in a motion – Town Centres fit for the future – passed on Sunday at Liberal Democrat conference. The motion calls for bold action to ensure town centres thrive in an increasingly digital economy, including: boosting support for local entrepreneurs; reforming local planning laws; developing local asset registers; and creating a new industry-led body to help brick-and-mortar retailers adapt to the digital economy.

The motion also reaffirms the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to replacing business rates with a land value tax, thereby boosting investment, rebalancing the economy and cutting the average tax bill in over 90% of local authorities.

Speaking after the debate, Liberal Democrat Communities and Local Government Spokesperson Tim Farron said:

“While it is essential that we embrace innovation and the benefits of the 21st century economy, we cannot simply abandon our precious town centres to market forces.”

“There can be no doubt that our high streets are in crisis; the thousands of failed businesses and lost jobs are ample proof. But while Brexit bears some of the blame, the roots of this crisis run far deeper, from the rise of online retail to the burden of business rates and local planning failures.”

“That is why this motion is so crucial. By empowering local areas to reform their planning rules, support local entrepreneurs, and help retailers adapt to the digital economy – as well as scrapping the hated business rates system – town centres can truly take back control.” 

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