B&NES must help independent shops thrive
One in seven high street shops is now vacant, says a recent retail report. Some 10,000 shops have closed over the last two years thanks not only to the recession but a culture of rising charges from local councils, ranging from sky-high business rates to escalating parking fees.
Several much loved independent shops have recently shut in our city and its not just tough economic conditions that are too blame. Talking to staff in Sassy & Boo in Green Street before they went, they blamed "Business rates in Bath, they are more than the whole rent in Tetbury". In nearby On the Video Front, they claim they have been "driven out by business rates".
Add to this confusion over parking and on-street parking charges, it seems that B&NES is not doing the most it can to help hard-pressed traders.
It needs to cut business rates for independent shops and make parking less off-putting for shoppers.
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Local Government Minister Bob Neill gets it, saying recently that: "We want to see councils use parking to support the High Street and help their local shops prosper."
So, come on B&NES, stop milking independent shops for every penny you can and help them thrive because it's the character of these independent retailers that makes Bath an attractive city to visit.
TIM NEWARK Bath TaxPayers' Alliance