Town halls call for more power over High Streets

High street Nine out of ten councillors want planning rules changed to improve local High Streets

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Town halls in England and Wales have called for more powers to tackle High Street takeaways, strip-clubs and bookies, which they say could damage local economies.

Local Government Association (LGA) research suggests that one-in-three councils are worried about the density of fast food outlets.

The LGA said more diverse High Street shops and amenities were needed.

Planning laws are currently under review, a government spokesman said.

Town halls want the Department for Communities and Local Government to reform planning rules to give councils more say over High Streets.

According to the survey, council officials believe High Streets would benefit from local retail shops, restaurants, butchers and amenities such as libraries.

Councillor Clyde Loakes, vice-chair of the LGA's environment and housing board, said: "The general public are less likely to shop on High Streets with clustering, while businesses may be less willing to set up on roads with clusters of unsavoury takeaways and raunchy sex shows."

Start Quote

The general public are less likely to shop on high streets with clustering”

End Quote Cllr Clyde Loakes Vice chair, LGA environment and housing board

The LGA surveyed 348 council officers across England and Wales with responsibility for planning and received 141 responses.

One in 10 said pubs and bars were having a negative impact. And while three quarters said they worried about the impact strip clubs could have in the future, just 4% said they are currently harming local High Streets.

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "Councils have a range of powers to license and control strip clubs, following changes to the law in 2010."

More than half of those surveyed said they believed betting shops could have a negative impact on local economies in the future. A fifth said bookies are currently a problem.

Betting shop The Association of British Bookmakers say the industry contributes billions to the economy

Councils are currently "powerless" to prevent shops turning into betting shops and risk costly compensation payouts if they try, the LGA said.

The government said it was "examining" the proliferation of betting shops in some local areas.

But the head of the Association of British Bookmakers, Dirk Vennix, said that bookmakers "are helping breathe life into struggling local economies by bringing shoppers into town centres."

Mr Vennix said betting shops support 100,000 jobs and contribute £3bn to the UK economy.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    So let's see. Only 40% of thopse questioned could be bothered to respond. Only 10% of the 40% thought that pubs were a problem, and even less, only 4% of the 40%, though that strip clubs were harming the high street.

    Hardly "Town halls call for more power over High Streets" as your screaming headline makes out, is it?

    Has the Beeb been taken over by former Star or NotW journalist/editors?

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    It's not bookies strip clubs and fast food shops that keep me away from the shops.


    I now avoid shopping in hight streets altogether for this reason.

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    The old fashion high street of specialist shops has gone - the days of butchers bakers and candlestick makers are over. If the high street has a future it's as a leisure centre - pubs, restaurants, clubs, venues and yes why not gambling and well regulated adult entertainment .

    Bureaucrats always want "more power" but no amount of power can turn back turn back time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    213. Billythefirst
    . . . what's the point of Pickles?

    . . . well, you need something to go with your cold cuts and pork pies :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    In Germany, water services are controlled by local authorities who are accountable to the customers in their local catchment area.
    Apparently it works extremely well. Surprising isn't it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    How is it that the Romans with no knowledge of modern town planning managed to create thriving thoroughfares but all we can create is endless culturally and socially dead consumerzones? Could it be they knew how to live, really live, way back when? Did they have a special way of removing the boring councillors who might make life on the high street boring?

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.

    Ask the Councils what they don't like and they'd say "we don't want charities, poundshops, amusement arcades, kebab shops, noisy bars, betting shops, sex shops, second hand shops, homogenised multiples retailers, smelly restaurants, recruitment agencies, strip clubs, beauty salons, nail bars, funeral parlours, casinos,etc. These businesses are successful, create jobs and they need to go somewhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    Society and democracy is built from the bottom up; top down, however benevolent is dictatorship. Dave's big society can only be driven by localism and a form of communitarianism. Perhaps we should even look at creating semi-autonomous Municipalities, with powers initially devolved from the centre and subsequently a nation built from a confederation of municipalities.

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    35 - About the public (yes, including me) being a major factor in this.
    I agree and on occasions where I am able to use a smaller local shop I do but money and time limit this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    Whether we like it or not, the Internet makes it very easy to purchase most items and have them directly delivered to your door. So sadly for some people...traditional shopping as we know it is a thing of yesterday... but everyone already knows this! So please stop wasting tax payer’s well earned money on pointless projects! You should give it back if you can't spend it more wisely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    Most Councils too busy trying to manage complex outsourcing/private partner agreements to actually be aware of what's happening.
    Still, that's the price of progress...

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    The things the planners don't like can afford the inflated rents and rates because they are in demand much as some might like them not to be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    Agreed - Malls and Corporates calling all the shots - now where did that come from - certainly not Euroland.

    Surprised that tory fans are against this 'initiative' given their commitment to and belief in localisation and the Big Society - otherwise, what's the point of Pickles?

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    What is that person wearing on their head in the second photo? Basil Brush?

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    Short term rents (2 months) should be available for new tenants.

    There should also be more controls on architecture in local towns, like in London, so that buildings are in keeping with the area, not the eyesores we see now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    Dont forget that most councils (not to mention councillors) are in the pockets of large supermarket chains and therefore have a vested interest in making sure that the high street becomes a thing of the past. Corruption will always succeed where common sense cant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    196. RTFishall

    Beware the Greens/Reds under the Bed.

    Also is the name of an article by Antonia Senior a few years back, it's a fantastic article if you have a Times sub, give it a read.

  • rate this

    Comment number 208.

    Do me a favour ! These little Hitlers have enough power to disrupt our lives as it is. The high streets around the UK are like wastelands because of the actions of many local councils ? Sky high business rates forcing small shopkeepers out, excessive parking charges forcing motorists out. Give me a retail park with free parking every time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 207.

    This is why there is no life on the high street. Councillors are often over-pious christians, consider the prayers issue, who say no to bookies and strip joints. In a open and liberal world women should have the right to use their natural assets to their own advantage, as they see fit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    "What's the point of opening a thread for an hour and/ or at tea time on weekdays?"

    Fully agree. Are you listening HYS/BBC?

    Thought not.


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