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Power to revive Portsmouth’s high streets welcomed

Today Labour has set out new plans to give councils the power to reopen abandoned shops to “revive Britain’s struggling high streets.” The plan has been backed by Shadow Communities Minister and Portsmouth MP Stephen Morgan.

The policy comes as latest figures show that over 10% of town centre shops are empty.

Under Labour’s proposals, Local Authorities will be able to turn “the blight of empty shops into the heart of the high street” by giving them over to start-ups, co-operative businesses and community projects.

Labour’s plans, which would apply to property left vacant for 12 months, would rejuvenate Britain’s high streets by bringing back into use some of the estimated 29,000 physical retail units which have been abandoned for more than 12 months.

Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Andrew Gwynne MP, said:

“Under this Government, our high streets have suffered a retail apocalypse. High street closures are at a historic high, leaving too many of our once thriving towns abandoned and awash with boarded up shop fronts.

Labour’s radical plan will turn around the mess that the Tories have created and will give local authorities the power to make our high streets the pride of our communities that they once were.”

New Shadow Communities Minister, city MP Stephen Morgan, added:

“I have long argued that the Government needs to do better to bring our high streets back from the brink, but sadly, their record is one of failure. Thankfully Labour is showing leadership and taking action.

This is a positive step in the right direction – and welcome news for communities across the nation that are too often forgotten”.

Commenting on the impact of inaction by Government on Portsmouth, the city MP added:

“Hampshire alone has lost over 1,600 shops in recent years, and with that, hundreds of local jobs.

I have been raising the issue of our city’s declining high streets in the House of Commons, hosting a roundtable with businesses to find solutions, calling for business rate reform, submitting parliamentary questions and writing to the City Council Leader.

The Government must  invest time, effort and resources to finally sort this pressing issue in Portsmouth once and for all”.

Locally Portsmouth Labour proposed a £2.5m rescue package to rebuild the city’s communities and help bring back our high streets from the brink in February’s council budget meeting.

The positive plan for the city would help rescue the city’s shopping areas with dedicated support and resources, alongside a better integrated transport network. Sadly the Tories and Lib Dems voted down the plans.

Today’s announcement builds on Labour’s five point plan for Britain’s high streets, which includes a register of landlords of empty properties.