Chuka Umunna unveils plans to support small businesses in Streatham high street
Giving struggling small businesses the chance to compete with big retailers is just one of five key ideas being suggested by Streatham MP Chuka Umunna to boost trade on the high street.
Mr Umunna believes Streatham High Road’s suffering traders need assurance they will not end up going bust when the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s apply to open new shops.
Under guidelines laid out by the Competition Commission, major retailers would have to show they would generate no more than 60 per cent of grocery sales within a 10 minute radius of their store for their application to be successful.
They could also only open stores in areas that were home to less than four other shops.
Mr Umunna said he was lobbying the Government to enforce the rules in order to improve the High Road’s prospects.
He said: “These are bad, very difficult economic times – a Liberal Democrat and Conservative Government has pushed us back into recession, but as a community Streatham has the resilience and the spirit to work our way straight back out.”
His announcement comes just weeks after the Streatham Guardian launched its campaign the Support the High Road.
Speaking about the campaign, Mr Umunna said: “I love my constituency and to me it’s the centre of the universe.
“The Streatham Guardian is right to fight the good fight to ensure our High Road blossoms into the best that it can be.
“I’m glad to be able to launch my Streatham Strategy in conjunction with the paper so that we have the national and local action necessary for our High Road and everyone who is living locally.”
Town centre manager Angelina Purcell voiced her support for the MP’s ideas.
She said: “I think the strategy is a sensible one and focuses on issues that desperately need to be tackled.”
But Lee Alley, chairman of the Streatham Business Board, said some of the ideas were covered in the coalition Government’s Localism Act, and others were being addressed by community group Streatham Action in the creation of a neighbourhood plan for the area.
He said: “It seems if our MP really wanted to help, he could put his popularity and importance to work by getting us more attention from the council and pushing some of the activity in the south of the borough.”
Chuka’s five point plan
• Boost confidence, business and personal finance by enforcing a temporary VAT cut and campaigning to get Britain’s biggest bank bosses to boost lending to Streatham businesses.
• New legislative powers for Streatham to build its own business strategy, including over new shops and campaigning so that more businesses are involved in attracting new shops when new tenancies become vacant.
• Letting small business compete on level terms with big business.
• Making best use of empty spaces in the High Road by reviving the empty shops initiative, meaning councils can use vacant retail for cultural and community events.
• Back the Business Improvement District (BID) and boast about how great Streatham is.
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