Street aims high on High Streets

West Midlands Mayoral candidate Andy Street has pledged to use his experience in retail to drive improvements to town centres and High Streets.

The former John Lewis boss has pledged as part of his manifesto to create a Future High Streets Taskforce to keep town centres remain vibrant in the age of online deliveries.

One of the main ways of doing this will be to support the formation of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) by traders, similar to the one already underway in Halesowen in the Black Country.

BIDs see businesses club together to fund improvements to their local areas and encourage more people to use them and there are now more than 200 across the country.

Voters of the West Midlands will vote on May 4 for their first directly elected Mayor who will have powers over transport, housing and jobs.

Conservative candidate Andy said: “I know from my time running John Lewis that there is a big difference between a High Street which has received investment and is a pleasant environment to shop in, and one which has not had that level of attention.

“One of the things people keep telling me is that they are concerned about the quality of the High Streets and town centres. “Simply, we need to have flourishing High Streets to restore pride in their areas.

“I am hugely impressed with the work that traders in Halesowen have done in coming together, forming a Business Improvement District and developing a plan of action on how to enhance their town centre. “I really want to see more town centres take this route and am committed to using my retail knowledge to help this.

“We want High Streets with interesting independent shops as well as the brands we all know, and some of these small businesses may turn into the next John Lewis one day. “I also want to look at more ambitious ideas, for example, the introduction of free Wifi hotspots in town centres and railway stations.

“Our High Streets and town centres are the lifeblood of the local economy and a vital part of the community – as Mayor I would use my experience to help bring about a renaissance.”