Monday, 4 November 2013

Revitalising our town centres.

I have always said that economic regeneration was my number one priority as an MP, and it is clear there are some exciting projects on the way that will bring much needed jobs and investments into our towns. Both Hayle Harbour and the Redruth Archive Centre are major schemes that will deliver local employment and transform the area. They will also bring new life into our towns rather than drain activity away to the outskirts.

It cannot be denied that the economic landscape of towns and cities has dramatically changed over the past twenty to thirty years and whilst out of town retail parks often provide an easy retail space for business, I still think our town centres have a vitally important role to play. We firstly need to get more innovative retail projects underway by redeveloping brownfield sites in the centre that can easily be turned into useful spaces for the larger and popular retail chains that will automatically increase footfall. I think that plans for South Quay in Hayle could provide a good example to follow.

We also need to look at the issue of business rates. I visit many small and medium sized businesses who take great pride in what they do and their shops mean so much to their customers but who still struggle to pay when it comes to rates. I think this can be a really difficult burden especially to those starting their own business. It is a brave decision and those who have taken a chance need all the help they can get. There are rate relief schemes offered by the Government which can be a great start and I think that longer term we should see if more can be done.

We also need our shops to work together to deliver a vibrant town centre and promote fresh ideas to get people back into town. In Camborne traders have got together to create a ‘Business Improvement District’, or BID, which does just that and when I have attended their meetings I am always struck by just how much they get done and their innovative ideas for the future. They have only been around for a year but during that time they have organised two months free parking in Trevithick Road car park, produced some really useful promotional guides on Camborne and developed the www.cambornecando.co.uk website alongside a load of other projects. Plans for the future include a music festival in November and some great produce markets on certain Fridays. I think where BID have got it right is looking at a range of options to revitalise the high street and with initiative our town centres will continue to have a bright future ahead.

George Eustice can be contacted at george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk or 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032.