Last week, I spoke in the House of Commons about the retail sector and town centres.
I made a number of points in the debate and there are several things I think Government can do to help.
We are fast approaching a point where business rates are simply unfair, in that businesses are taxed based on their property not their sales, which means that a small low-income business in a town centre often pays more rates that an online retailer that makes far more money.
The rise of digital retail has changed the landscape and we need to adapt.
Equally, I asked Government to consider giving councils more power and resources to make physical changes to towns, allowing them to buy up empty property and put it to use.
Both of these things could have a game-changing impact for town centres, on top of the work the Government is already doing (which I referred to in my speech which is available in full on my Facebook page).
However, whatever Government may do, and even if these changes came about, nothing could be achieved without a clear local vision.
A locally agreed and produced plan would do wonders for our town.
It’s the biggest question I ask of the council on a regular basis – where do you want our town centre to be in ten years, or in 20?
I’m looking at how I might use my role to help.
Whilst I can’t make those local decisions myself, I’m campaigning for changes to parking, and hosting events to support small businesses with online marketing and offer advice to local people who want to start new businesses of their own.
In the absence of a plan from the council I will put together a team of local stakeholders to think about this ‘vision’ we need for our town in proper detail and I’m working to ensure that many of the Conservative candidates at next year’s local elections are business people with ideas and an entrepr-eneurial spirit.
I’ve called on Government to take more action and I’m calling on the council too.
Work with us to come up with a proper plan and let’s deliver for Mansfield.