The Importance of Local Government in Supporting High Streets

A thinkpiece by Shaylesh Patel, founder of ASTOP Limited.

Image by Freepik

The high street has been in decline for many years, with businesses shutting down and leaving town centres deserted. This has had a huge impact on the local economy, and something needs to be done to reverse this trend. One of the solutions that has been proposed is for local government to play a bigger role in supporting high streets. In this article, I will discuss the role of local government in promoting economic growth and creating jobs. We will also look at some of the initiatives that have been launched to help revive high streets across the country.

There’s nothing quite like local knowledge or having a passion or sense of belonging. Local government is important and their tentacles (direct and indirect) travel much deeper than most realise in our everyday lives.

Those without children of a schooling age tend not to know how much resource (space, time and money) is invested in the next generation’s health, learning and wellbeing. More so when the child or young adult has special needs where centres are dedicated to them and their care as well. 

The extent of the local government’s role and that of the NHS in health related services was something outside my realm of awareness when I was in my teens and 20s and therefore physically invincible until my parents’ health started to decline. 

The police and local court system, social projects and charities that feed the hungry via food banks; house the victims of domestic violence and aslyum seekers and those that give away pre-loved sports shoes to families on free school meals are just some of the numerous key services that the private sector and traditional economics simply cannot fathom or provide. 

However, local government and its perception has its own problems. Being closely linked to the rollercoaster of party politics and election timelines mean that their strategies and actions are not as forward thinking as they could be or should be.

When it comes to High Streets, which are highly visible and offer employment opportunities for many age groups, (but especially those starting their adult life), the private sector was good at plugging gaps in the days before the advent of online retail. 

Now “voids” in high streets and nearby underused and unused office spaces where

employees used to work 35 hours per week are harder to fill and there is a longer period of stickiness whilst these spaces are reimagined for the new generation who buy and return goods through clicking rather than walking. 

As national and local governments face greater pressure/demand to deliver more services, care and healthcare in convenient locations, this is now an ideal opportunity, even temporarily, to activate these voids, to deliver services that improve the health and wellbeing of all of us and create jobs, volunteering and internship opportunities more locally.

Recently I came across one of the most active and professional local voluntary services charities in a long time. Within days of reaching out to them, the Dacorum (Hemel Hempstead) area charity that helps charities met me at their premises, again at our local premises and small local charities (including the free sports shoes charity) have stated to move into spaces that make them run better with the limited resources they have. 

How good are your councillors, MPs and council teams with their joined up thinking and linking to the other business and social/charitable groups that together make up the fabric of your High Street and town?

If you think we can help them, for free, to ignite the spark to help unlock unused space in this new world, do contact our team for a no obligation consultation. 

We are also supporting an initiative to get commercial property empty rates’ taxpayers to play fair which will help local and national government to unlock more spaces and create a positive ripple effect through volunteers, employees and businesses as well as core public services. Learn more about the petition to replicate the Welsh government’s move to block unscrupulous use of a tax concession at . 

Get involved, support your local government and charitable/voluntary services to ensure that everyone has access to the life-changing assistance they need. Together we can make a difference!

Together, our role is to empower everyone with the right knowledge and access so that those who need help have it in the right place at the right time. Let’s work together to drive real change!

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