In its response to the Mary Portas High Street Review, the Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG) announced that BIDs will receive a £500,000 fund to help town-centre managers access loans for their set-up costs.
Last December, Portas set out recommendations to free up the high street from constraints such as red tape, to level the playing field between high streets and out-of-town centres and to introduce a more flexible planning system.
But the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) raised concerns about the Minister of State for Housing and Local Government Grant Shapps’ statement that “town centres often become no-go zones when shops close and pubs open”.
Kate Nicholls, the ALMR’s strategic affairs director, said: “We are slightly surprised to see Grant Shapps’ statement that there is a ‘no-go zone’ between the time shops close and pubs open. Pubs and bars are a key part of the day-time economy — from breakfast and morning coffee to afternoon tea and after-work drinks — they already bridge that gap. Government policy should be based on reality, not outdated assumptions. There is no twilight zone for pubs on our high streets.”
She added the body “welcomes the Government’s recognition that well-run bars and casual-dining businesses are an asset on our high streets”.
British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “BIDs have been really successful in getting venues, licensing authorities and police to work well together for the good of their town centres.
“There are now more than 100 BIDs, which shows this works. In Nottingham, which led the way, we’ve seen money raised by levy-payers themselves, to fund taxi marshals at weekends, street ambassadors, part-funding of an annual food and drink festival, clean-up campaigns and other initiatives.
“Successful town centres are vibrant and safe. Pubs and the night-time economy have a positive part to play in revitalising them.”