The government does need to allow change on the High Street

When I last wrote about shop closures some of you said the government should not intervene to help retailers. The market will sort it out. The problem is local and national government does intervene mightily with taxes, regulations, planning controls and town centre management in ways which can impede change or make things worse.

The first priority many agreed about on this site is allowing easy access to town centres. For many that means less congested roads and plenty of free parking. The out of town centre offers both these features, whilst the internet competitor does not require you to stir from your chair at home.

Where the Council owns the car park it should provide 2hours free parking for shoppers.Where there is insufficient parking or parking on road that creates congestion the Council should secure the provision of more parking.

Councils should review junctions and roadspace on main routes to shopping centres to make it easier to get there.

The government should review the Uses class orders, to make it easier to switch from one use to another in a town centre.

There are too many traditional shops in many urban areas. There needs to be flexible and easy ways to convert them to be premises for services, restaurants, coffee shops, resudential or commercial uses.

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118 Comments

  1. Posted June 1, 2018 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    ‘The government’ should?

    Local government and national government often pursue different objectives. Even different departments within local and national government do this. So there is conflict.

    For example, parking fines are a nice little earner. Very welcome for cash strapped councils. Roads can be altered to increase the revenue from fines. This deters shoppers that another agency might wish to attract. Local councillors are often keen to develope areas in ways that make them less attractive – residential tower blocks on former shop and office premises etc.

    Proliferation of restaurants and takeaway premises at the expense of other types of shop means less reason to visit unless the purpose of the journey is to eat out. Charity shops,bookmakers and nail bars do not a High Street make.

    • bigneil
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      ” Charity shops,bookmakers and nail bars do not a High Street make. ” – -You forgot the endless opening of fast food places run by ” penniless” immigrants, who, as the UK border Force program shows regularly, employ illegals. OK, they get a fine of up to £10k per illegal person they employ, with usually, the illegal not supplying any details of where they are from. This gets them to stay here and avoid deportation, released on bail ( to vanish yet again to work in yet another foreign owned fast food place).

      • getahead
        Posted June 1, 2018 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

        Yup, too many travel agents, estate agents and cafés already, time to shut the high street down.

  2. Tim Chick
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    One of the biggest issues for retailers is the Uniform Business Rates which bear no relation to trading results. This coupled with high, commercial rents, are major inhibitors on the high street.

  3. Peter Wood
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    Good Morning,

    Off topic, apologies.

    It appears that Labour tacticians believe that if they manage to thwart Brexit then that will also win them the next general election. I’m inclined to think this potential disaster may occur if Mrs. May continues leading the conservatives, in her heretofore manner.

    My little high street has gone through demise, reform and regeneration, including a successful once a week street market. Still has a butcher, baker, flowershop, a new chocolatier and even a video game emporium (whatever that is) .

    • getahead
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      Any hairdressers Peter?

      • Peter Wood
        Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:20 am | Permalink

        Haha!

  4. agricola
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    We have recently been here before. However ,as you say we need to look at the impact of local and national government on the high street. Too much of it, and the high street becomes atrophied and dies. Too little and you end up with unacceptable chaos. Government should be an enabler, creating the infrastructure that allows the high street to work. Their touch on all commercial aspects should be lite and expectations of income modest. My instinct is to scrap business rates because so often they have no connection with reality. A turnover tax seems fairer and becomes a partnership between a business and it’s authority. They both have a vested interest in making it work.

    • a-tracy
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      A turnover tax? How would that work with some businesses making a 70% gross profit mark up and some 10%?

      • agricola
        Posted June 1, 2018 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

        The only profit that counts is nett. The turnover tax percentage would be added in before the selling price is arrived at, and do not forget it would be proportional to turnover and instead of business rates which currently bare no relation to how well or badly the business may be doing.

        • a-tracy
          Posted June 3, 2018 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

          Oh you mean like a sales tax, vat plus local sales tax, ok but that won’t help against the Internet and imports.

    • getahead
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      “Too little and you end up with unacceptable chaos.” I doubt it agricola. We are over-governed and over-taxed.
      Perhaps we should revert to government-free market stalls.

  5. Nig l
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    The future spaces foundation.org has an excellent report on this very subject from analysis to suggested solutions. Essential reading I think for every one involved with this topic.

    • David Price
      Posted June 3, 2018 at 7:08 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the pointer, I’m reading through their “The Future High Street” report now.

      Lots of interesting ideas, in particular that town centres being places where people would also like to live, work and learn – treat it as a community not just a commercial/retail opportunity.

  6. Prigger
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Had online retailing never come into existence, then what?

    My town centre is the ongoing play area for Councillors and a Central government. Piles of money to squander over decades. They do.
    Without online retailers I would be queuing just to get into supermarkets and queuing at the till and queuing to exit the car park and at every traffic light for two miles out of town.

    Just keep awarding knighthoods to these Heads of Council. Why not more OBEs? Not enough of them have MBEs and six months heavy labouring work “in the community” wearing shackles and a gag.

  7. DUNCAN
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Expect the high street and indeed the entire productive sector to come under intense pressure from government as the British political class appears to have decided that more state spending, more state debt, higher taxes and more regulation is the method by which they intend to sacrifice the private at the altar of the screeching public sector

    Adam Smith and the truth of the market will be replaced by the politicised spending of a new political class who take their inspiration from the charlatan that is Keynes

    Politicians love to spend money that affords them political leverage and political popularity. If that means hammering the retail sector and indeed the entire productive sector then that’s exactly what they will do

    The Tories have once again capitulated to the left and Labour rather than adhering to their values.

    Like Labour, Hammond will squeeze the golden goose.

    • getahead
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      Yup.

  8. Stephen Priest
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Shops should be able to open on Sundays, without restriction.

    The first hour’s parking (at least) in town centres should be free.

    By the way a Commons Select Committee on Shopping would not agree to the above. Far too free market for the current crop of interfering nanny state politicians,

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

      Stephen If I remember rightly didn’t the SNP vote sunday trading down for England even though they had it in Scotland?

      • a-tracy
        Posted June 3, 2018 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

        That’s correct fedupsoutherner they did!

  9. Anonymous
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    We live in a stateist society. Run for the government rather than the other way around.

    Potholes and refuse collection are now a joke. The slightest infringement on bin regulations and a big, humiliating demonstration is made of it. The offending article left by the side of your bin or a knock on the door by someone with a clip board.

    This can be something left in your bin while it was out by a passer-by or your recalcitrant teenager who really did not want to do the recycling and put card in with the plastic.

    I recall when you could leave a broken fridge out and it would be taken.

    You never see a policeman.

    This costs me £2500 a year. Government are squeezing everyone – not just high streets.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      Indeed highest taxes for 40 years and yet public services deliver almost nothing of real value at all. Most “public services” are just further attempts to fine or charge you. Police cannot even be bothered to take in lost property or even investigate most crimes.

      The state do nothing about shop lifting – far too buy issuing parking ticket to the shoppers much more lucrative.

    • bigneil
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      Anonymous. Every month thousands arrive, hands out, smiling at the thought of the housing, benefits, NHS, translators and schooling they are going to receive – all for NO contribution whatsoever. Their cost HAS to come from somewhere. Just one reason why our Council tax goes up, but Council Services get cut and cut.

      And the EU and UN says we MUST take in millions more.

    • Adam
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      Anonymous:

      You claim ‘Potholes and refuse collection are a joke’, but efficient Councils use the deep ones for landfill & save fuel.

  10. Samsez
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    My local Council thought they would relocate the central library…four times in thirty years or so. No non-Councillor is aware what was wrong with the first incarnation. We know what was wrong with the glassy but not classy second. Also what was wrong with the third as its computers were taken off-line for six months. The present expensive nonsense….erm no-one knows if it is up and running and is in more or less in the same place as the second incarnation. In the process of road closures and demolition/rebuilding, well established shops have gone away for ever. My local MP is also now the Mayor of South Yorkshire so we can expect more glory from him and extremely interesting traffic diversions….oh and new libraries of course minus computers.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      I am sure some money was being made for some people, builders and developers along the line – follow the money is usually the best policy to understand such things.

  11. Mark B
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    Excellent post.

    Although our kind host mentions this, he does not suggest the reduction of rates for businesses. As we can see, less is more.

    We also need to look at over saturation of one type of business. We do not need coffee shop after coffee shop. There needs to be a good mix.

    • Anonymous
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Coffee shops sell an over priced unit repeatedly. This is a good business model. Take-out coffees are a different product to a sit-down one, which is not overpriced, btw.

    • Dominic Johnson
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      And who decides the ratio?

      • Mark B
        Posted June 1, 2018 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

        No one. You just say that no same type of business from the same retailer within a certain distance. I think if you looked at some retailers they tend to over saturate an area.

    • a-tracy
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      I don’t know MarkB if the town can support lots of coffee shops and they are always busy what is the problem. A rural town like Knutsford is full of busy coffee shops and restaurants all making a living. I’d rather have ten busy coffee shops than 10 charity shops full of tat with run down signage, poor dirty window displays and peeling paint.

      It’s more of a problem that we have towns where not one coffee shop can flourish because of the demographics and poverty levels in that town which Councils perpetuate by always putting all the social housing there, all of the areas ‘affordable homes’ there and move all the Counties problem neighbours there!

      • Mark B
        Posted June 1, 2018 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

        I picked on coffee shops but it could just be as easily charity shops as you mention. Good to see a lot of the same doing well and making you happy.

  12. Adam
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    1 or 2 hrs free parking funded by Council Tax makes sense.

    First, add space & drive efficiency by arranging parking at angles on spiral-shaped parallel lines.

    Free parking to motorists leaving their side lights on would encourage them to return & prevent waste!

    • Colin
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      Leaving side lights on does NOT prevent waste but DOES increase waste and pollution.
      Just where do you expect this extra required energy to come from but costly fuel?

      • Adam
        Posted June 1, 2018 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        Colin & Lifelogic:

        The waster pays for his own waste, so is encouraged to avoid both ways. However, I omitted ‘parking’ before ‘waste’, & might have erred as you indicate.

        The concept belonged to Edward de Bono from long ago. It may be raw, or more efficient overall. Avoiding the production, installation & maintenance of parking meters, & the space they occupy enables saving, among others.

        Spiral parking is more space efficient than rectangular, & its drive forward method prevents fuel-wasting manoeuvres both on entering & leaving the space, & obstructing other motors queuing.

        As you indicate, wider costs should be included for accurate evaluation.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      “Free parking to motorists leaving their side lights on would encourage them to return & prevent waste!”

      This is actually a good way to waste petrol. Rough calculation:- three hours of side lights one (with incandescent bulbs) might waste about 1/3 litre of fuel just to recharge the battery. So not very green nor good at preventing waste!

      • Lifelogic
        Posted June 1, 2018 at 11:53 am | Permalink

        Perhaps a bit less as side light are slightly less wattage than I estimated.

  13. Posted June 1, 2018 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Let’s face it – one of the reasons why our city centres, roads, pavements and general infrastructure are such a crumbling mess is because our politicians had fully accepted that the EU would be taking full control of everything and there was little point in them trying to do anything worthwhile – like lemmings they waited for themselves to become fully redundant.
    As I recall, blair stopped all spending on roads, which is why we have so much congestion now, and so many roads in a bad state….Tories have still not caught up on the neglect.
    Our towns are full of decaying shops and many are slum areas now, and allowing charaties dispensations has only made it worse. Local councils need to be charged with making town centres vibrant.

    • Mark B
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      Do not forget that money given to the EU is money given to other countries FREE. They then spend it on their roads etc and create jobs and wealth in their own countries.

      • Posted June 2, 2018 at 8:52 am | Permalink

        Mark – Absolutely, while their infrastructure improves enormously, ours crumbles …

  14. Blue and Gold
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    How on earth can Councils afford to give free parking for 2 hours? Central government are squeezing funding so causing council tax to rise, (as I predicted and JR stated ‘may rise’ when he knew perfectly well they would indeed rise).

    Why encourage more vehicles into town centres that are congested enough?

    Talking of trade, Donald Trump has started a trade war so which side are the ELITE Brexit politicians and the Brexmoaners on, the man they worship, Donald Trump, which would be very unpatriotic or the EU?

    • Anonymous
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      Donald Trump is doing what he promised he would. We would not be subject to tariffs if we’d left the EU as our own politicians promised.

      He’s turning out to be an effective POTUS and is making Obama look useless.

      • Anonymous
        Posted June 1, 2018 at 10:10 am | Permalink

        Trump is making our own PM look useless too.

      • Blue and Gold
        Posted June 1, 2018 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

        GOTCHA…….Brexmoaners support Trump not the Dis-United Kingdom. Grossly UNPATRIOTIC.

        This is the elite Brexiteers and Brexmoaners all over, hypocrisy.

    • Wessexboy
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      Trump starts a trade war? Or just trying to inject some fairness into dealing with the protectionist EU?

      • Anonymous
        Posted June 1, 2018 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

        The EU has threatened us with tariffs repeatedly. (AKA ‘we’ll remove frictionless trade’)

    • KZB
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      The congestion has been manufactured by the council. It is intentional.

      They’ve got rid of the shops and pubs. When they have got rid of the takeaways and betting shops what then?

      Never mind I suppose all the homeless will have plenty of empty shop doorways to sleep in.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Blue and Gold. Perhaps if we were out of the EU we could negotiate free trade between our countries or a reduced rate at least. All the time we are in the EU we have to do what they do. No choice. No democracy and none of our own negotiations. Another good reason to leave.

      • Blue and Gold
        Posted June 1, 2018 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

        You have been successfully brainwashed by the far right in the Tory party, quite the worst politicians, and extremely concerning for every one who cares about this country.

        • libertarian
          Posted June 3, 2018 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

          B& G

          I’m NOT right wing , I’m NOT a Tory , I haven’t been brainwashed by anyone. I’m a very successful entrepreneur who trades extensively and I’m tell you , that you are clueless, You have clearly never run a successful business and you’ve never tried to sell services into the EU.

          You and the rest of the remain whingers are backward looking, lacking in experience and quite frankly clueless about the reality of the EU. You voted to remain because you are virtue signalling, you dont have any other reason

  15. Lifelogic.
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Indeed get the state out of the way. Relax planning, OTT green crap building regulations, stop ripping off motorists on parking, cut rates and taxes, move to easy hire and fire. The town centres will adapt and adjust perfectly well if the government just gets out of the way.

    As almost everywhere bad and bloated government is the problem not the solution.

    • acorn
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to Lifelogic’s Brexit version of “The Hunger Games”.

    • Edward2
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      Another good post ‘LL.

  16. Posted June 1, 2018 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    A council plan was unveiled for my area…heralded as a ‘plan for the future’ – it was basically an excuse to cram in more cheap housing and shops, but neglected the current traffic issues.
    It’s time, now that some sort of BREXIT is before us, to tell the planners to stop building slums and carbuncles, and immitate the great builders of the past who actually had far more imagination and skill than the current and last few generations.
    Decay is everywhere, certainly in my area, shabbyness rules. Council estates quickly become slums because we sem to build houses to last a generation or so.
    If we are going to have a country we can be proud of, we have to build it – we have to make the streets safe by improving our environment, and quell the neglect.

  17. billR
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    All of these ‘shoulds’ won’t change anything..for a start the council is not going to give out two hours free parking to facilitate high street business- they, Councils, are too short sighted for any change to the various charges or rates systems, with them, unfortunately, it’s about short term gain-

    What has happened in effect is that the High Street business has migrated to the outer suburbs where there is more room and not so much congestion- rates rents etc are also more in keeping- better leave it to the market

  18. billR
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    What about Trump? wouldn’t he just take your breath away?

  19. Adam
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Traditional shops maintain the stability of a neighbourhood. Easing change of use may unsettle residents & spoil the environment.

    Restaurants, coffee shops & other commercial premises generate traffic, loitering, noise from deliveries & music, large unsightly extraction vent systems, food waste for disposal, the risk of vermin, smells, smokers’ litter & many more nuisances; unpleasant near homes.

    Residential & Commercial separation exists with a purpose. Living near a high-quality porcelain retailer with 1 delivery a week of dry stock is preferable to finding it changed to dry cleaners, whose exhaust fumes intrude on every local resident’s intake of breath.

    • a-tracy
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      Our old offices had about 15 restaurant bins, overflowing with lids often left open with local crows and other birds regularly scavenging and then littering all around the area, then the bottle bins would be emptied at 8am (sorry any late night workers – everyone must get up to the sound of breaking glass every week). This could have been solved if restaurants had to have twice a week collections instead of five large bins each. The local hairdresser had more noise pollution from music when they insisted on putting speakers out in the street than any of the restaurants and cafe’s whose music you couldn’t hear. Smokers groups hanging out outside flipping their dimps are a nuisance I agree.

  20. Ed Mahony
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    There are two types of conflicting approaches to business:

    1. Crude hard-nosed (works in some areas of the economy, but terrible for an economy overall)
    2. Creative / analytical / strategic-minded (works where you want to create stable, long-term growth, high productivity, quality high exports abroad – the approach of Steve Jobs—>Apple, Bill Gates—>Microsoft, etc .. – great for an economy overall).

    Trump represents the crude hard-nosed approach. And his large US tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from the EU is a good example of this. The sooner Trump goes, the better (and is replaced by a Republican who understands, more, the creative / analytical / strategic-minded approach to business and the economy).

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      Trump is right on energy and climate alarmism and the Paris Accord lunacy but wrong on protectionism. Gates is doing great work with his charities, but his software is and was really very irritating, time wasting and hugely inefficient, open to attacks and full of bugs. I can not really understand why everyone had to have an apple phone when you can get ones that do basically the same for 1/7 of the price. But then all my family have them (except me that is).

      • Ed Mahony
        Posted June 1, 2018 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

        What does it mean to be right on ‘climate alarmism?’ Whether it is real or not, Trump should be encouraging the US high tech entrepreneurs to create the green technology that people WANT (/ that the market wants) and export it around the world. $$$$$

        Entrepreneurs / high tech companies win. US Inland Revenue wins. Trump wins. Greenies win. Everyone’s a winner!

        It just seems bad business sense to be focused on carrying on with clunky technology that pumps smoke and gas into the air. Also, new innovations in green tech will have spin-offs elsewhere. I just don’t get your position?

        ‘wrong on protectionism’

        – And that’s something HUGE to be wrong on.

        ‘but his software is and was really very irritating, time wasting and hugely inefficient, open to attacks and full of bugs’ – I was talking about Bill Gates from a business POV not how good or bad his technology is/was.

        ‘I can not really understand why everyone had to have an apple phone when you can get ones that do basically the same for 1/7 of the price’ – again, I was talking about Steve Jobs from a business POV not how good or bad his technology is.

        • Ed Mahony
          Posted June 1, 2018 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

          (and comparing the approach of business of Bill Gates / Steve Jobs to Trump – Gates/Jobs approach is radically different – creative / strategic-minded / comprehensive / long-term – Trump is completely the wrong kind of businessman for the US’s steady, long-term growth, and you can see this happening already with his completely unwise, unbelievable protectionism).

          Regards

  21. Lifelogic
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Charles Moore in the Spectator this week is spot on as usual:-

    https://www.spectator.co.uk/2018/06/the-eu-should-go-the-way-of-the-british-empire/

    He talks of the unconscious bias at the BBC:- on Brexit, Christianity, the sex war, paedophile accusations, immigration, Israel, Trump, abortion, global warming and so on.

    But surely it cannot be all “unconscious” BBC bias at the BBC can it? It is so massively biased in these directions. Also on ever more regulation, ever more tax, ever more government, more transfers from the hard working to the feckless, more magic money tree corbynomics, the “NHS is the envy of the World” drivel ……..

    • Chris
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      Charles Moore was absolutely right about Theresa May’s “complete capitulation” to Brussels in December. Why can’t the Tory Brexiter MPs see this?

  22. Lifelogic
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Also Rod Liddle reminds us of May’s breathtaking electoral liability and total stupidity (and I am pro hunting).

    “in a moment of monumental stupidity, announced she would like to see another free Commons vote on fox hunting with the aim to repeal the ‘hunting with hound’ legislation. Given that 80 per cent of the population is in favour of the ban and virtually all of those who are against are Tories, this was maladroit handling on a par with what you might expect from a Liverpool goalkeeper.”

    https://www.spectator.co.uk/2018/06/when-will-the-tories-learn-murdering-animals-isnt-a-vote-winner/

    No change no chance. We surely do not want the party to be buried for many terms again (John Major style by lefty, daft remainer T May with Corbyn and the SNP wreaking havoc with the economy.

    • Blue and Gold
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      It shows how out of touch you are with most people, and how far you have been dragged to the hard Right, if you think ‘T May’ is a ‘lefty’.

      Hunting is wrong. If you had a dog and I chased it with hounds that ripped it apart, live , you would quite rightly take me to court. But you think that it is ok to do that to a wild animal.

      I have lived in 4 rural counties, and in each village that I have lived, a huge majority of the inhabitants were strongly against such cruelty going on, and STRONGLY opposed hunting.

      • Adam
        Posted June 1, 2018 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

        Blue & Gold:

        Cruelty is wrong, but hunting is what animals do to eat & exist. Foxes could eat berries & fruit. If you dislike hunting, tell the fox to stop munching rabbits, chickens, frogs & many others less able.

        Similarly, if you care about animate life, try checking every step before you walk, or you might risk crushing many poor creatures to death.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted June 1, 2018 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

        Blue and Gold. At last something I can agree with you on. There is far too much cruelty targeted at animals all over the world today. There was a sickening article in the Mail yesterday about Artic Foxes and how they are fattened up and kept in tiny cages so their pelts would be bigger. Sometimes wealthy people are the scum of the earth.

      • Ed Mahony
        Posted June 1, 2018 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

        I wouldn’t try to shove it down people or re-introduce fox-hunting (it has no hope) but the way it was banned tells us a lot about the world we live in sadly, and its priorities. In the case of fox-hunting in the UK and how it was banned, fox-hunting over the people of Iraq (that’s literally what happened in Parliament under Blair).

        (And not forgetting how cruel or cold/indifferent we are to each other, and where battery farming is far worse than fox-hunting)

        • Ed Mahony
          Posted June 1, 2018 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

          (apologies for going on about hunting …)

      • Lifelogic
        Posted June 2, 2018 at 4:31 am | Permalink

        Her policies are clearly very left wing indeed. We have the highest taxes for 40 years, a new sugar tax, gender pay gap drivel, attack on the self employed, bloated and inept government everywhere, a sick joke health system, endless over regulation of everything, loads of greencrap, minimum wage laws, fiscal attacks on pensions, landlords and tenants …… plus she is clearly pro EU and caves in at every turn.

  23. Man of Kent
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    As you pointed out in a previous post buses take up a huge amount of space to little effect .

    An average of 10+ passengers per trip averaged over the whole country is not good enough especially in small narrow country towns where the High Street is blocked with DD buses crossing.

    County Councils must come up with alternatives appropriate to the various areas – urban, rural, industrial – to cut costs and ease congestion .

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      Often fewer than 10 (average depot to depot) and they take indirect routes and stop to block the road every few hundred yards.

  24. alan jutson
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Clearly Car Parking is one very, very major problem, but perhaps the Business Rates system needs a major overhaul at the same time.

    Agree, rents are a market demand and supply issue.

  25. Peter Miller
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Perhaps, there needs to be an online sales ‘equalisation’ tax, one which distinguishes on turnover between your local BBQ store (no tax) and large corporations like Amazon (say 3-5%). The funds raised from this tax would be used as a credit against business rates for shops/restaurants in the High Street.

    • Mark B
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      Do not give these people ideas.

      The money raised from consumers, i.e. you and me, would just be wasted and banked in their generous pension fund.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 2, 2018 at 4:53 am | Permalink

      We certainly need some ‘equalisation’ tax for state and private sector pensions. The state sector ones are paid for by the private sector workers who have pensions only about 1/10 of the size and worse tax laws apply to them in general too.

  26. Posted June 1, 2018 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Government (central, local, sectional etc) intervention is costly and should be used extremely judiciously, alsways with the intendend purpose very clear and unintended consequences monitored and made public. Politicians usually pay lip service to this but of course, since it limits the scope of political competition, measures to make intervention more transparent tend to be unpopular. Simplisically said, the left wants to intervene on behalf of its support base (poor, workers, minorities) and the right on behalf of the rich, business people, property developers, self funded retirees. Simplistically. Intervention (especially through non-budget means such as planning rules, restrictions etc, are an attractive and cheap way of buying votes. Why would you expect a Thai politician (where vote buying is the norm in rural areas) to cling to a great tool and and English politician go against nature?

    I have no idea what single, uniform rule would cure the perceived problem, but it appears that lots of high streets in the UK are simply obsolete, as both thoroughfares places for getting supplies or for recreational shopping. Hanging on to museum quality town centers makes sense. Protecting some victorian buildings around an abandoned bank branch, a few pubs converted into whatever and long lines of kerbsite parking is probably only for the benefit of the poor souls who are hanging on to those shops. Let the market do its work after scrapping restrictive rules. Massage parlous, betting shops, pubs, fast food, fine. No one is forced to go there.

  27. DUNCAN
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    At a meeting in Brussels, Remoaner-in-chief AC Grayling tells Guy Verhofstadt:

    “What would help the Remain movement in the UK: if the EU is very, very tough and uncompromising on a deal.”…

    This is what the British people are up against. We have a PM that you voted for John who is determined to keep us in the EU and we have people at the heart of the British establishment who simply refuse and indeed conspire to ensure the British people suffer at the hands of this appalling and disgusting conspiracy

    When is MY PARTY going to bring this appalling PM and her pro-EU Chancellor to heel and threaten them with everything you have

    The time for pandering and mollifying these pro-EU snakes must stop

    We want action not words

    • Nig l
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      What has this got to do with today’s topic, can we not at least have a days break?

      • Anonymous
        Posted June 1, 2018 at 10:09 am | Permalink

        Well it is pretty shocking stuff and I’m surprised it’s not today’s topic.

      • Jagman84
        Posted June 1, 2018 at 11:57 am | Permalink

        It’s a good job that the RAF didn’t decide to have “a days break” during the Battle of Britain or similarly for the allied invading forces on D-Day. The traitorous Remainers will not let up for a minute so neither should we.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted June 1, 2018 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

        It’s lucky that I saw this in time, Nig 1, because I was just about to submit a completely off-topic comment about the government’s latest crass stupidity over the Irish border ‘problem’:

        https://openeurope.org.uk/daily-shakeup/us-introduces-punitive-tariffs-on-steel-and-aluminium-imports-from-eu-canada-mexico/#section-1

        “David Davis draws up post-Brexit plan for Northern Ireland to have joint UK-EU status and buffer zone”

        Now I will restrain myself and wait until JR posts about it as a new topic, perhaps in an article headed:

        “Government’s latest crass stupidity over the Irish border ‘problem’.

        • Timaction
          Posted June 1, 2018 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

          Indeed. The whole Brexit shenanigans have shown the total incompetence and failure of the legacies and their non supporting, useless civil servants. The whole shebang should have been dealt with by qualified and patriotic private sector individuals.

        • Mark B
          Posted June 1, 2018 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

          Denis

          Do try to calm down dear chap.

          🙂

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted June 2, 2018 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

            Why do you suppose I should be calm when our government has been and still is, and in fact it seems perversely insists upon, behaving with such stupidity and pusillanimity that we could well end up either not out of the EU at all, or formally out of the EU but still subject to EU law?

            I’ve just rewatched the first 15 minutes of the March 20th meeting of the Brexit committee I wrote about here:

            http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2018/03/24/my-speech-during-the-debate-on-the-economy/#comment-926823

            and I find it as appalling now as I did then:

            “I have listened to unpatriotic antidemocratic Remoaner MPs constantly trying to throw up ill-founded objections to what their witness is saying, they are a complete disgrace.”

    • Bob
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      @Duncan
      A lot of Labour voters that I’ve spoken with still think that the Labour Party represents the workers. Many Tory voters still think that the Tories are conservatives.

      When will the scales fal from their eyes?

    • Mark B
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      NEVER !

  28. graham1946
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Perhaps in some towns there may be some land for new car parks, but in old market towns like the one near us there just isn’t. Unless you can get there before 9.30 am there is no chance of parking, presumably shop workers etc are using the spaces.
    In fact it grieves me, but I no longer go there unless I have a doctors appointment or some such which I make for very early mornings and then stay for coffee or breakfast and then shopping. I prefer to go to a newer town which has plenty of parking, although the cost is substantial. I don’t profess to know the answer, except for park and ride schemes, but they surely only work for the big towns and cities. Maybe towns like ours could take one or two storeys over the base parking area without being too intrusive of the history, but councils have no money for that kind of thing, it would need to come from Government and that’s not likely with their obsession about saving a penny even if it costs a pound to do so. I am afraid at the moment the high street look doomed unless someone relents.

  29. Andy
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    I agree that Business Rates and Parking are huge problems, but I think there is another dimension to this. In my nearest City (one I have known since childhood which is a long time !) it is remarkable how much empty and derelict property there actually is. Even if a shop unit is tenanted and in use invariably the upper floors of the building, which were once probably offices, are empty. Why can’t much of this space be turned into residential housing ? If this were done you have more need of basic services – butcher, baker, candle maker – which rejuvenates the town and city centre. What is particularly shocking is that quite a bit of empty property is owned by Local Authorities, who on the whole seems pretty useless at managing their estates. Why ?? And I do think we should be wary of following the example of America (which I known very well) where most of their city centres are dead or worse just derelict holes.

  30. David Cockburn
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Looking down the High St in Canterbury and many other small, old towns it is clear that a couple of hundred years ago we had many more residences in our town centres and that these have been converted to offices and shops. Councils would be wise to allow them to be converted back again. This would reduce the amount of traffic and hence parking and would reflect the fact that an increasing proportion of shopping is being done on line while purpose built structures make better offices than conversions.

  31. Dennis Zoff
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    An ever so slightly off topic comment from a Facts4EU individual, but in some way reflects your comment on High Street shopping and its demise…..Europe invests (with UK money)

    Comment from an individual….

    “Are the British induced masochists? One always wonders why the citizens of the UK continue to vote for these self-seeking political parties that have more interest in Europe than their own country.

    We are a country of moaners and pessimists and perhaps ever so slightly nihilistic “oh dear that is terrible, but hey ho, let’s have another cuppa and forget about it” Housing, Healthcare, Education, Road infrastructure, Pensions, Aged aftercare, Policing, etc. are a disaster and most probably the worst in Europe (for those that travel to Europe on a regular basis and see it first hand?).

    Brits have been at the back of the queue for decades in the EU and our politicians acquiesce on all issues driven from Brussels; unlike the French that really give it to their politicians when they are unhappy….why is this?

    My personal view is our Establishment’s historical social engineering! The Brits are conditioned to accept mediocrity. Just go to the main cities in France, Switzerland, Austria, Scandinavia, Spain, Holland, Poland and especially Germany where everything is being renewed at pace? See the condition of their motorways, streets in general, housing, their hospitals/healthcare, inner cities (a remarkable transition), subsidised transport systems, real social amenities, subsidised education, reasonably priced supermarkets and then come back and look at ours…we are being mugged.

    The construction of our houses in the UK is appalling…low quality, smaller and smaller (Coronation street housing is making a comeback), but prices continue to increase….almost impossible for youngsters to leave home unless it is into some overpriced grotty bedsit. Take a good look at Britain and realise how we have been shafted by our own establishment/elites and left behind by Europe (thanks for your money UK, Europe appreciates it).

    We watch the rich grow richer and we swoon over the monarchy and celebs while our aged pensioners try to exist on smaller and smaller pensions…I won’t go on as this would become a “War and Peace” of the ills of our society, seemingly from a raving neo-communist! As I said, induced masochistic tendencies due to our elite’s social engineering are at the heart of our social demise.

    FACTS4EU’s latest article “new €373 billion budget for its “Cohesion Policy” reinforces this issue… our complete lack of knowledge of the EU’s inner workings and our Government’s shocking ineptitude on all matters pertaining to managing our country?…but, hey ho, fancy another cuppa anyone?”

    We just seem to suck up mediocracy in the UK, shopping or otherwise. UK inner city high streets are declining whereas European inner cities are thriving with increased investment? UK Government, keep our money and let’s invest in our own inner cities for once!

    • a-tracy
      Posted June 5, 2018 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      I agree to a point Dennis but are we sucking up mediocrity? We can’t do anything about our state services having to take what we are given and compulsorily taxed to provide it, we changed our local council’s political makeup but actually get even less now, verges going uncut, poor quality landscaping, potholes are more like pot-trenches.

      I have a colleague who got his appointment at the hospital just cancelled four weeks ago for an urgent investigation and he’s not been given another date after everything was changed at work to accommodate his day off request because he was told there was one choice date and time for three months. He’s been paying his national insurance contributions for 35 years, the company pays NI contributions on his behalf, we now have a very worried person who is not getting the care he thought he was covered for. he can’t opt out, he can’t afford private top up appointments.

      However, when we can vote with our feet, i.e. when we shop we don’t take what we are offered, our High Streets are dying because we don’t want what is prescribed for us by the council’s amelioration planning, high business rates, high parking charges, their preference for charity shops who aren’t contributing any rates (but does the local council actually care about that anyway because they don’t keep the local rates, central government are too far removed from the Northern regions to notice or care) can’t possibly allow competition in. The people aren’t just taking it or ‘sucking it up’, they are no longer saying you know what we’ll keep supporting these shitty town centres with their poor, dirty old shop interiors and signs, poor variance of shops, they are taking their business away.

      The supermarkets are taking the micky too, with their home brand preferences seeping in now and their lack of choice, they’ll be going the same way as High Streets in the next ten years.

      • Dennis Zoff
        Posted June 8, 2018 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

        a-tracy

        Excellent point!

  32. ian
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    I take it you are talking about mostly poor areas around the country. Recap, your party have put business rates up and at the same time cut tens of pounds off the poor, in work or not, most of these people do not have cars, it just goes to show how much money you have taken off of these people.

    All the money you have taken off the poor people has mainly gone to overseas aid which has created an aid problem in your own backyard, I do love the do-gooders in parliament and elsewhere who find good in all poor people outside of England and the people coming to England and nothing but cuts for the poor in England to pay for the others.

    I suppose if parliament decides to stay in the EU who want another 5 billion a year extra, parliament vote to take that money off the poor people’s as well to pay for it.

    • Mark B
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      Ian
      If the poor people of England keep voting for them then they must approve of their mistreatment.

      But one fine day the dam will break. And then we shall see.

  33. NorthbyEast
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Personally I am only a few hundred yards from the town centre but would much rather drive a few miles the outer fringes of town where the malls and big shopping retails are located. What a joy to be able to park my car for free and go in for a coffee, and stay as long as I like without worrying about traffic wardens and clampers etc..

    So what do you think about Trump and his latest antics now? What can we say about the WTO rules that we hold so dearly and are supposed to be living by? What chance now for doing a post brexit deal with the US?.It seems like a right old mess..I can’t help wondering where all of this is going to end..

    • Prigger
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      If we had the majority of the Tory Cabinet without first language German or French we could do better.

    • Mark B
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      Creative destruction. President Trump knows what he is doing and in time the pygmies will be wanting to talk / do a deal with him.

  34. Posted June 1, 2018 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    I might be missing a point here – or perhaps I’m very naive – but what is wrong with ”traditional shops”?

  35. ChrisS
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    All very sensible suggestions and ones we have all discussed and agreed on here. So why don’t Councils do something about them ?

    They sit in their plush offices and do nothing while every year more shops close and whole streets become a shabby wasteland. You can only have pity for the poor retailers left when those shops around them are closed.

    Some shopping centres are doomed to fail. Bournemouth is a classic example. The very heart of the town is a square with a park extending in two directions in a level valley and all the shops are on the two steep slopes to either side.

    Parking is expensive and at the top of either hill so to shop requires a trek down to the square and back up again. Twice. The council compounded the problem by even taking away all the 30 minute free parking bays near the smaller shops and installed meters instead.

    The town centre has only survived so far because of tourism but the writing is on the wall.

    By contrast, Castle Point, an out of town shopping centre with free parking, has been thriving and has a branch of M&S. As a direct result of the success of Castle Point, M&S is now closing its large store in the town centre. It’s hard to believe any other group will want to take over this very larger unit so it is likely to remain empty.

    Is it any surprise that we never go to the town centre ?
    What we can’t get at Castle Point we can buy from Amazon.

    It won’t be long before other retailers follow the example of M&S and desert Bournemouth town centre and many others.

  36. nigel seymour
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Why do I not go into Reading?

    Good question me thinks. Firstly, I was born next to Reading West Station in Basil’s Flat 61 years ago. My mother would take me down the Oxford Road or perhaps pop over to the corner shop and then we would visit my Gran in Hart Street. I would sleep over with Gran and sit on the table in the dining room with a knitting needle as my fishing rod with wool and a piece of paper as a hook and line…

    Reading Town is now a complete shit hole and bears no resemblance to my childhood memories. It still has M&S and John Lewis so things cannot, perhaps, be that bad on the trading front? I used to find free parking for an hour or two but over time parking meters sprung up seemingly everywhere including those areas that had 10 min access to the RB Hospital.

    So, there we have it. Reading is now a shit hole and we have to pay to come to it.

    • alan jutson
      Posted June 2, 2018 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      nigel

      Parking in the central underground car park in Monte Carlo is now very much cheaper than Reading Towns car parks, or even the Hospital, which says it all really.

      Will only ever go into Reading by bus, and the only reason I do that three or four times a year is because I have a bus pass, and the bus stop is outside my house.
      Rarely purchase anything substantial, as it would need to be carried, thus out of Town shopping is the norm.

  37. Iain Gill
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Re “The problem is local and national government does intervene mightily with taxes, regulations, planning controls and town centre management in ways which can impede change or make things worse.” exactly in all aspects of our life not just this one

  38. Drachma
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    If our government had any balls it would just withdraw that invitation to Trump to visit..😂..but they won’t..we’ll know all about it next march 30th when we find we have no trade deals with anyone and thete is no WTO eithet

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

      OMG, lets all slash our wrists now!

    • Posted June 1, 2018 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps, Drachma, you should tell us what would have been so positive about remaining shackled to the EU. It’s a pity that remainders such as yourself don’t tell us (ruefully) about the great, glorious, golden future that we forfeited by voting to unshackle ourselves, about what we are missing, how our children might have been part of a wonderful collective that allowed them even to join the combined military might of your much-admired EU.

      Tell us about the future we’ve missed, instead of denigrating your(?) fellow countrymen.

  39. Prigger
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Even slight tariffs against Swedish exports to the USA would plunge that country literally into a half century-long economic depression. Liam Fox should get out of his platform shoes the next time he talks dribble and get us out of the EU too!

    • Mark B
      Posted June 1, 2018 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      Don’t worry. So long as Germany goes relatively unaffected the EU can take it 😉

      /sarc

  40. Richard
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    I agree with all John’s clear statements above. Both car access and liberalising high street planning uses are very important.
    Councils need to review the practical effectiveness of Bus lanes, which have mostly had many years to prove themselves. Buses usually ran equally well without them. Is the bus lane just diverting shoppers out-of-town?

    High Streets have very important Community Social functions & this should be recognised in rebalancing Business Rates between failing High Streets v out of town centres & ‘dark store’ internet warehouses (both high turnover).
    High Street business rates currently are unbalanced taxes on what many regard as of benefit to the public.
    Big High Street names often attract footfall that help support their small neighbours, so the many recent High Street closures announced by M&S and others is very troubling.
    Small Business Rates Relief is particularly bureaucratic, with the sole trader it is targeting often slow to realise that a positive claim is required.

  41. Jean Brodie Esquire
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    Hilarious that the EU which has so many former communist counties clutched to its dark and vile bosom should contemplate a tariff on American denim jeans.

    Reason. Consumers of jeans in the Eastern Bloc of course knew how to make jeans and did. Identical to the ones here as seen through British eyes. Slight differences in colour and style but more or less the same. However, the price of genu-Ine American jeans was at least one week’s middle class or skilled worker salary. More if the colour was something other than conventional blue. They became Sunday-best attire. Expensive but absolutely a must-own by everyone who had taste. which…was…. everyone …of all ages. The EU knows nothing about commerce, trade or psychology. Useless!

  42. A Common Wealth
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    I have a lot of time for Canada and Canadians. We and Canada go way back. Though for the USA to buy so much ordinary everyday steel from Canada is odd.

    I believe the Cold War did much to influence America’s quest for allies and, and, in lockstep trading partners. Naturally allies should get a better deal. I hate to say “But” as Remoaners have gained ownership of the word to give a a prefix to treachery beyond the ken of a true Briton to comprehend of his own kith and kin.BUT, if Mother Russia had not been a perceived threat I feel Canada, with a population the size of California would not have such good trade with the USA as it does now, even with a common language and culture. In short . the USA knows how to make every form of steel and has adequate and increasing supplies of oil, gas and minerals. Something for Mr Trudeau to think about with anguish.
    As Trump says I believe genuinely “We love Canada”. “We love the UK.” I feel we Britons and Canadians should show more understanding if not agreement; for, our tongue is identical, really.

  43. Christine
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    My local town centre is vibrant with a very good range of shops. There is easy free parking that allows customers to spend the day shopping and eating in the many restaurants and cafes. Sunday is the busiest shopping day but the shops can only open for a few hours. I suggest that in order for the high street to be able to compete with the 24/7 internet availability the archaic laws on Sunday trading should be scrapped. If shop employees want to work and shoppers want to buy who is the Government to stop them. How much money is being lost to the economy by these stupid laws?

    • a-tracy
      Posted June 3, 2018 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      I agree

  44. ian
    Posted June 2, 2018 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Mark. B, who said poor people vote, at the last election nom voters share, was 34% nom approval rate on any parties holding power in parliament over them which always a winning majority against parliament forming a government.

    • Peter Parsons
      Posted June 2, 2018 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

      And the FPTP system renders more than two thirds of those who do bother to vote completely impotent when it comes to determining the results.

      More people would bother to vote if their votes actually counted for something. All the evidence shows that voter turnout is significantly higher when using a voting system where all the votes actually count.

  45. Ken Moore
    Posted June 2, 2018 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    I was with John Redwood until he called for more units to be converted to restaurants and coffee shops..ye gods don’t we have enough already!. Chain restaurants have been closing outlets..

    Prosperity is in decline which is why non discretionary spending on meals out and new cars is going down.

  46. David Price
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Your last paragraph, “There are too many traditional shops in many urban areas. There needs to be flexible and easy ways to convert them to be premises for services, restaurants, coffee shops, residential or commercial uses.”

    Why stop there – why not allow libraries, learning, makerspaces and small scale manufacturing uses as well? Give people more reasons to want and need to go in to the town centre than simple to buy more tat.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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