Pubs, bars and restaurants 'will save the high street'

By Stuart Stone contact

- Last updated on GMT

High street saviour: a varied night-time economy could help 'the beleaguered high street'
High street saviour: a varied night-time economy could help 'the beleaguered high street'
A new study by the Local Government Information Unit and the Portman Group has revealed that 92% of councils believe that the night-time economy can prevent the decline of high street retail.

The survey of senior officials and political decision makers within English local authorities, titled 'Local partnership working for a vibrant night time economy', also revealed that almost three quarters (74%) of councils said they saw developing their night-time economy as a key priority or important – although only one in five said they have a dedicated night-time economy.

Three quarters of councils also said they would welcome a system to help them share best practice across the country.

Moreover, the survey also revealed that while antisocial behaviour and crime were major issues – with 72% of councils listing them among their biggest challenges – 88% treat their area’s night-time economy as a way of supporting local businesses and job creation.

Life-belt for high street

Local Government Information Unit chief executive Jonathan Carr West said: “With customers spending more time and money online, a varied night-time economy could be a life-belt to the beleaguered high street.

“Encouraging activities and venues that appeal to a wide range of people is, rightly, important to local councillors.

“A national strategy would help councils get the best out of the night-time economy, to the benefit of everyone in the community.”

Portman Group chief executive John Timothy added: “Partnership working between the police, businesses, local authorities and other stakeholders is already happening in communities up and down the country to make the night-time economy safer and more inclusive.

“This is crucial at a time when we know our high streets are changing, with online retailers challenging traditional operators and more shops standing empty.

“We need to further develop these models of partnership working to deliver vibrant night-time environments that can help revive and retain our much-loved high streets and town centres as well as boosting the local economy.”

'Encouraging'

Commenting on the study, Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), said: “The high street is an important part of any town or city in the UK, but it is struggling. Our experience from previous years makes clear that local leadership, partnerships, events and an understanding of the local market really can make a difference to a high street.

“We are therefore encouraged by the findings of this study by the Local Government Unit and the Portman Group. The findings suggest that the vast majority of councils see the night time economy as playing an important role in preventing the decline of our high streets.

“Pubs are a huge part of the night time economy, creating jobs and driving growth on the high street. As an industry though they face many threats from beer duty to business rates. They need support from the very councils who say they value the role of the night time economy, as well as the Government.

“We have previously welcomed changes to the National Planning Framework to incorporate the Agent of Change principle, which supports pre-existing venues like pubs and ensures that housing developers have to put in adequate soundproofing for new dwellings.

"Working together with local businesses will ensure that our night-time economy is safe, vibrant and attracts all generations to come together and enjoy their local towns and cities.”

Related topics: Legislation

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