Last week Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath, spoke in the House of Commons asking Government to provide more support for our “changing” high streets.
Whilst acknowledging the challenges which Covid-19 has caused for the retail sector, Ms Hobhouse claimed that the pandemic has “merely accelerated changes that were already taking place, and if we want to give shops and high streets a future, and are serious about saving retail jobs, we must fix what is not working.” She made her comments during a debate entitled “The Future of the High Street” in Westminster on Thursday 10th December.
Bath’s MP has been very active in her support for small businesses this winter, supporting Bath’s SouthGate Centre and High Streets on Small Business Saturday – which took place on 5th December.
When speaking in Parliament last week she argued that high streets need to be supported to become “community hubs” and Government must additionally “level the playing field” for bricks and mortar retail, arguing that right now it is simply “cheaper to sell online”.
Wera Hobhouse said:
“In Bath, we are so lucky to have so many wonderful independent shops but – after such a challenging year – we cannot take them for granted. The Council has provided as much support as they can, whilst balancing the need to fund essential services for the community. Without further Government funding, additional support will be difficult to find.
Covid-19 has made us aware of the existing inequality in our retail sector. For years now online companies have become increasingly profitable, whilst the overhead costs of physical shops make it impossible for them to compete. Government must level the playing field urgently. We need to save our high streets and give them the room to grow into multipurpose hubs, which will no doubt become the foundation for future community growth.”
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