We are fortunate to have the benefit of many local shops to serve our communities, such as those on Blackwood Road and Boundary Road, offering service and convenience close to home, but the High Street as we know it has to change and adapt. With the digital revolution and on-line shopping, many retail businesses have to work even harder to attract customers.
Indeed, the broader future of Britain’s High Streets has never been far from the headlines in recent months and we have heard of several household names such as Marks and Spencer, House of Fraser and Homebase announcing closures and changes as they face some big challenges in the world of retail.
I know from my inbox and speaking to local residents that we value what we have locally, but equally we share a frustration when we see our banks closing, and empty premises. The world of retail is changing and we need to look at the future of our High Streets and local shopping centres, as well as reviewing the digital economy and on-line market places.
We are working hard to help, including schemes to help small businesses with their rates, and I am pleased to see that Government will be launching a consultation in to High Streets. As soon as details are available I will be encouraging local responses however, in the meantime, if you would like to let me know your views and ideas then please do e-mail me at email@example.com
For those of you who regularly follow my column you will know that I often refer to the many local groups and the hard-working and dedicated volunteers who work quietly behind the scenes, supporting our communities. Their impact is huge, with even the smallest contributions collectively making a big difference. Often referred to as part of Civil Society, they are the bedrock of many a locality up and down the country, and indeed can be the ‘glue’ that holds a community together.
A strong Civil Society is also a sign of a strong democracy and as a country we must continue to strengthen these organisations as we seek to tackle today’s challenges and strengthen our communities – something that is recognised in the Government’s recent Civil Society Strategy.
An expertise of volunteers, charities, organisations and business that work together can help encourage greater involvement in an area, often supporting our vital public services, and we are fortunate to have many excellent examples across the constituency, such as The Friends of Streetly Library, a group of dedicated and very active volunteers.
Whilst the House of Commons pauses now for the autumn round of Political Conferences, it is a good time to be out and about across the Constituency starting with an excellent meeting and visit last week to St Annes Primary School on Blackwood Road.
This article was first published in the Sutton Observer on 21st September 2018.
I would welcome your comments and feedback on our High Streets and our local Shopping Centres from residents across my Aldridge-Brownhills constituency. The future of our High Streets and Shopping Centres matters to me and if you would like to get in touch please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to me at 82 Walsall Road, Aldridge, WS9 0JW.