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News - 5 January 2013

Christmas a festive flop for many high streets

A non-existent Christmas boost for high streets has prompted calls for greater council powers to stimulate local growth and town centre recovery. In its annual Christmas town centre survey, the Local Government Association (LGA) finds that 84% of town centre managers are experiencing lower or unimproved levels of financial confidence in shoppers in comparison to last year.

The LGA has subsequently urged the Government to use the Growth and Infrastructure bill to lift restrictions on council borrowing and help town halls kick start investments in their local economies.

Red tape should be cut to help councils target their resources towards keeping streets safe, and greater control must be granted to town halls over transport funding, the LGA says.

A number of councils have still taken action to encourage shoppers into their local commercial hubs, the LGA finds, with nine out of 10 putting up decorations; over half holding Christmas markets; 53% introducing temporary free or subsidised parking; and a third permitting extended opening hours.

Chairman of the LGA's economy and transport board, cllr Peter Box, said: ‘Last year 86% of those who took part in our survey thought there would be no improvement in consumer confidence on the high street in 2012 and it would seem from today’s results that they were right on the money. Worryingly the outlook for next year is not much brighter. People’s shopping habits are changing, and we need new creative approaches to revitalising our town centres.

For the full story from localgov.co.uk, click here.


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