Emma Hardy MP
Our high streets have always been more than places to buy and sell things. They are the beating heart of our communities. They are where we come together.
When shops reopened last week, we were celebrating that we could get back to the places we love, spending time with the people we love.
But even before Covid hit, our high streets were suffering.
Here in Yorkshire and Humber region in the last decade we’ve lost 1,085 shops, 400 pubs and 190 libraries.
We can’t turn the clock back on online shopping and we shouldn’t try. But a change in shopping habits shouldn’t mean losing what we all love and value about our high streets.
We should be thinking about the high streets of the future. Starting with what local people want and need.
Sadly, this Conservative government is doing the opposite.
This summer, they’re changing planning rules so our high streets can be sold off and converted into poky flats. Local communities won’t get a say.
They’ve done nothing to help high street stores cope with business rate bills.
And they’re bringing in a tax break for Amazon and other tech giants who already don’t pay enough.
It’s typical of the Tories – leaving people behind, letting them sink or swim.
Labour wants to see a brighter future for our high streets.
That means listening to the people that matter: local communities and experts like those on our new Rebuilding Our High Streets Commission.
It will bring together experts from retail, leisure and hospitality, as well as the trade union movement, local government, cooperative and social enterprise sectors.
We need to act now so our children and grandchildren can still have those places to come together, to spend time with one another and to build those bonds of community that this last year has shown are so important.