High Street Success

Edward Davey, the Consumer Affairs Minister, was in Bedford today to see how successful the high street was. The visit follows a report issued by retail expert Mary Portas who has come up with a number of solutions of how to save the British high street.

Figures show that more of us are shopping at supermarkets and shopping malls and by 2014 only 40% of consumer purchases will be made on the high street.

The government asked Mary Portas to conduct this review, she has suggested free car parking and a National Market Day as just a couple of things that could bring people back to the high street.

Mary Portas has said too many high streets in the county have become ghost towns lined with empty shops but Edward Davey has praised Bedford high street today and thinks other towns can learn from them:

"Mary Portas talks about the importance of seeing the high street as the heart of the community and not just about economic capital but social capital as well where people are interacting and not just shopping and that is what seems to be happening here in Bedford"

Mary Portas has visited Dunstable high street in the past for her Queen of Shops programme. Some people in the town were offended by her attitude claiming she was too negative about the future of the town’s high street. 

Consequently they set up a campaign group called Don't Let Dunstable Die, they focus on the community working together to save the high street.

They agree with Mary's suggestion that free parking would help the high street and they have been campaigning for this in their town:

"Why would you want to come and pay for car parking charges in Dunstable when there is not that many shops here yet? They are growing, there is a lot more shops opening up but if they were to stop the car parking charges I'm sure we would get a lot more people in town"

Edward Davey told Heart he was confident the government would use Mary's report to help turn struggling high streets into successful ones like Bedford.

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