Eric Pickles tells 'tatty' shopping parades how to succeed

Empty shops Figures suggest there are a record number of empty shops in the UK

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Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has issued a set of guidelines to help "tatty" shopping parades in England compete with the High Street.

He urges small neighbourhood shops to "kick out the louts", set up "savvy" services and "restore local pride".

Labour branded his "shopping list for success" - which comes with no new money - "patronising" but it was welcomed by a leading trade body.

Retail guru Mary Portas has drawn up a £10m plan to revive the High Street.

But the Department for Communities and Local Government says it wants to reassure local convenience stores which employ 10 people or fewer that they have not been forgotten, describing them as "crucial" to the economy.

Local grocery shops, newsagents and cafes have been squeezed by the growth of out-of-town shopping centres and online retail, although are still growing at a faster rate than High Street stores, according to research quoted by the DCLG in a report.

'No-go zones'

Mr Pickles said: "In the past too many neighbourhood shopping parades have been left to fade in memory and outlook.

Start Quote

The government is giving long overdue credit to local shops and helping them by giving practical advice on how to work together and thrive”

End Quote National Association of Convenience Stores

"Convinced they can't compete with the mega stores and besieged by gangs of louts they have become tatty, no-go zones turning our beloved local convenience store into the local inconvenience.

"We've taken action to back local firms and small shops and today we are offering up ways to rescue run down shop parades by kicking out the louts, set up savvy services for shoppers and restoring the local pride in parades."

He said parades should be "thriving beacons of local business, home to the character of the neighbourhood community and the local shoppers' destination of choice".

The guide sets out government support available to local shops, such as the "Community right to bid", which is meant to make it easier for local people to take over "treasured" local assets faced with closure.


But Shadow Communities and Local Government minister Roberta Blackman-Woods, for Labour, said: "This is further gesture politics from the government to cover up their lack of an economic plan for the country and for High Streets.

"While shop owners are working hard to keep their businesses going, the government has done little to improve consumer confidence and get our economy moving again.

"Advice like 'Go the extra mile on service' is simply patronising and unhelpful."

But Mr Pickles' guidance was welcomed by the Association of Convenience Stores, which helped draw it up.

Chief Executive James Lowman said: "The government is giving long overdue credit to local shops and helping them by giving practical advice on how to work together and thrive."

He said Mr Pickles' department had made "great strides in its new National planning Policy Framework that will make it harder for big out-of-town stores to open up and destroy the diversity of local parades."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    You want to know the real reason why there are so many small shops boarded up?
    Its so simple. They were once owned/managed by one man or woman and they did not have the money to influence local and national retailing policies. Do you ever remember being asked if you would prefer 20 small shops or one hyperstore?
    Successful retailers are hallmarked by their access to decision makers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    Am puzzled why Pickles is chosen to front this.
    He's a career Politician. He went from Councillor to Parliamentarian.
    There must be other members of the coalition who have a much stronger background in retail?
    Or better yet get Mary Portas to present the ideas.
    Advice is always easier to take from someone you like.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    Pickles is a very poor excuse for a politician. Basically a Tory yes-man.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    It is the job of the police to kick out the louts, savvy services is meaningless twaddle, and restoring local pride is hardly the responsibility of the local shop keeper. If this is the best Pickles can come up with he should be sacked. Quite ridiculous, no totally ridiculous vacuous nonsense!

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    Out of touch...

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    That's funny, has Pickles got any advice for shop owners when a huge super market chain, which will remain unnamed, builds a giant super store right in the middle of town claiming, "it will help local business" only to see almost every other shop close down within 3 months? What advice have you got then Pickles?

  • Comment number 51.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    The solution ia easy - the owners of empty property still pay "rates" so why not do what is done in South America -

    Empty shops and offices are used by social groups - music lessons - painting classes - dance - chess - etc etc.

    Anything that brings people into a town centre and kids off the street.

    Our town centre are dying because lack og imagination..

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    Excellent strategy...Lots of empty shops everywhere - no real solution but to knock them down - that will cost money....
    Mmm...I know, lets get some celebrity clown to encourage people to blow their life savings re-opening up all those uneconomic little shops - problem solved !

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    #45 (cont...)
    Also, let's give small business owners more of a stake by allowing them to have the freehold of their business instead of being beholden to the avaricious demands of large property owners and their rent demands.Finally, get rid of the soulless 60's style concrete shopping parades and replace them with mixed use so they don't die at 5PM. That way ppl might be more inclined to use them

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    What a creep!

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    Oh, so that's all these shop keepers have to do.

    How could they all have missed that one?

    Well, no doubt My Pickles will be paying ever shop keeper a visit next week to see the transformation that sadly will not take place.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    'He urges small neighbourhood shops to "kick out the louts"...'

    Exactly what powers does he think shopkeepers have to do that? If a shopkeeper has a baseball bat or something behind the counter to protect themselves in the event of a raid, they will be done for it. I agree the sentiments but let's have a way for society to do this without risking arrest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    There's not much hope when the shifty district council (also the planning authority) engineers preferential conditions for a supermarket to treble in size as in my Sussex village.
    Having said that, renting a shop does not entitle anyone to a living. If the service is poor, or the product no longer wanted, and marketing inadequate, failure will follow.
    No matter how long the shop has existed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Govt goes hand in hand with the big 5 supermarkets to knowingly decimate local shopping areas.
    It further allows "local mini supermarkets" to spring up everywhere.
    Now we have to listen to Mary Portas fulfilling her lucrative contract pushing water uphill.
    Is it just me?

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Can't blame everything on out of town centres. These shops aren't viable in the main because of (amongst others) -
    High Business Rates
    High Rents
    Large outlay for security in certain areas
    High Insurance costs
    Commercial rates for utilities

    Start tackling these issues then you may see people want to try starting a 'local' shop. Until then you might as well throw your money down the drain

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    What? Some shopping parades are "no-go" areas? How can one sort that out? More Police on the beat perhaps? Not closing down youth clubs? Jobs for young people? Better paid jobs so people actually spend money giving the local shops the capital to improve their premises?

    Reversing government economic policies then!

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Myr Pickles does realise that community Police make a huge difference to removing 'louts' from shopping precincts. Might I suggest he increase their numbers?
    And it isn't only small precincts that are looking the worse for wear with empty shops. It's also main shopping streets.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    Spread your pound around

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    We still have premises left in a mess from Maggies no change there then !


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