Alan Campbell MP: More help for town centres needed

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Town centres are described as the "core area of a town" and they’re often the beating hearts of local communities. But over the last decade or more town centres across the country have faced major challenges.

There are things that government, national and local can do to help. Many local businesses are on a knife edge. Replacing business rates will help bricks and mortar businesses and stamping out late payments would begin to recoup the £20 billion in unpaid invoices. It's also about revamping empty premises and improving community spaces.

That’s at the heart of the regeneration of North Shields. Then there's the long-term challenge of keeping town centres clean and tidy, a task made harder by the long-term, central government cuts to local government funding.

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People's habits are changing with more people online but there must also be role for face-to-face banking on our high streets.

Alan Campbell MP.Alan Campbell MP.
Alan Campbell MP.

The greatest disrupter or indeed saviour of town centres is the state of the national economy. Last year the economy was in recession and before that the Truss budget pushed up mortgage rates reducing spending power and increased interest rates in general.

Even when we can get the economy growing people will only return to town centres if they feel safe in them. We need more police officers and PCSO's - we propose 13,000 - working in dedicated town centre teams. I welcome the Government's announcement on taking shoplifting as a crime more seriously, after lengthy campaigns by USDAW and many MP's but it’s not enough. Still, some action is better late than never.

Alan Campbell is Labour MP for Tynemouth