Campaigners thank Mary Portas for championing Sustainable Communities Act Proposals
Author: Emily Randall
Published on Nov 28, 2011
28 November 2011
Local Works, a coalition of over 100 national organisations, including the Association of Convenience Stores, the Federation of Small Businesses and the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, today thanked Marty Portas for her high street review championing a number of ideas made by communities using the Sustainable Communities Act.
The Sustainable Communities Act was passed in 2007 specifically to address the problem of 'Ghost Town Briatin' - declining communities and high streets and the closure of shops, pubs and post offices around the country. Under the Act, communities and councils are able to put forward ideas to government for changes to prevent this decline.
A number of popular ideas put forward under the Act appear in Ms Portas's twenty eight recommendations for saving our high streets, published today, including putting betting shops into a separate 'Use Class' of their own, supporting community use of empty business premises, and giving councils powers to give business rate concessions to new local businesses.
Campaigners for the Act welcomed the fact that Ms Portas had endorsed ideas that have come up from grassroots community groups.
Steve Shaw, National Co-ordinator of Local Works, said:
"It's great to see Mary Portas championing so many ideas that have come up from the grassroots. It's really refreshing to see someone recognise that ordinary people have the solutions to local problems. If high streets are to be saved, it's going to have to involve local people - they're the ones that use the high street."
Mr Shaw warned Ms Portas however that government may not necessarily endorse her ideas:
"It is disappointing to note that government rejected some of the ideas that Mary is recommending in her review when it considered them under the Sustainable Communities Act, such as creating a new use class for betting shops. We urge the government to recognise the value of these ideas for regenerating our high streets and get on with implementing them."
The Local Works coalition was formed to campaign for the Sustainable Communities Act to become law. The Act sets up a radical new 'bottom-up' process where communities and councils can submit proposals to government. Government then has a duty not just to 'consult' but to 'try to reach agreement' on them, meaning a process of dialogue and discussion where. Since the Act's passing in 2007, Local Works have been inspiring and helping communities and councils to use it.