Last weekend, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Nicky Morgan MP, visited Stoke-on-Trent to announce £2 million for Church Street shops and Stoke town. This funding has come from the government’s Heritage High Street Fund. I welcome the fact that this money is coming to our city but if our high streets are truly to thrive, we need real, long-term investment rather than sticking-plaster pots of cash with little long term vision.
A proper high street strategy must focus on changes to business rates and public transport connectivity, cost and accessibility. And while Tory Ministers visiting stoke to announce pots of cash is welcome, we cannot ignore the fact that Tory-led Stoke-on-Trent City Council are clearly not doing enough to invest in our high streets and are instead allowing them to decline. It is clear that we have a pressing need for a new and ambitious approach towards regenerating and attracting investment in our high streets to ensure that they continue to be the hub of our local communities.
A strategy of simply renovating empty town centre buildings will clearly be insufficient if used alone. We have to bring about an holistic approach which delivers for the needs of local people who want to continue using local businesses and services.