Decline of high streets is a focus for women’s institute

Alnwick Town Centre
Alnwick Town Centre

A nationwide campaign for shoppers to keep it local and support high streets has been drawn up by the women’s institute – and branches in north Northumberland are throwing their support behind the fight.

The National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) Board has tabled a resolution to help rejuvenate town and village centres.

If the motion receives enough votes by delegates at the 2013 national annual general meeting (AGM) in the summer, the national body will campaign on the issue.

The resolution is titled Decline of our high streets and town centres and calls on every member of the WI to support their local shops and make the high street their ‘destination of choice’.

It says that the NFWI is concerned about the ‘continuing decline of our high streets and the damaging effect this has on local communities’.

The motion urges decision-makers to work together, at all levels, to ‘help bring an end to the decline of our high streets’ and ensure they ‘flourish and provide a focal point for local communities’.

The motion will be debated at both local and national level before going to the AGM.

And a number of branches in north Northumberland have already discussed it.

One member from Alnmouth WI, who didn’t want to be named, said the group was in favour of the resolution.

She said: “ This is particularly relevant to our county town, Alnwick, and surrounding villages, including our own.

“It is certainly a very important issue and one we, as a WI, feel very strongly about.”

Barbara King, press secretary for Acklington WI, said the branch backed the call.

“We are fully behind the resolution to support high streets. Something needs to be done about the high rents to help people open, and keep open, their businesses.”

High-street viability has become a big issue. Last year, Alnwick and Amble both received £10,000 after becoming Town Team partners, thanks to a scheme set up as part of the Portas Review into town centres.