Call for teams to help high streets
A GROUP set up by businesses in Bristol to fight for struggling high streets is calling on mayoral candidates to support its campaign.
The group is calling for a series of 20 town teams to be created in Bristol to fight for help and funding for shopping areas in and around the city.
The call has come in the wake of the Mary Portas review which recommended the creation and funding of town teams across the UK.
Bedminster successfully applied to be one of the first 12 pilot areas across the country under the initiative.
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George Grace, of TownCentred, Simon Webb from Blue Skies Photography and Chloe Lester from Church Road Traders' Association have launched the campaign.
The group has set up the website – www.twentytownteams.com – with a charter that has already attracted scores of signatures in its support.
The campaign group believes that increased competition from the internet and tough conditions on the high street mean businesses need to have a clear strategy in place if they hope to survive.
Areas which have town teams will benefit from devolved funding and powers which will see funding spent effectively and quickly, bypassing red tape and administrative complexities that can slow down council-led initiatives.
A spokesman for the organisation said: "According to the latest research 80 per cent of an area's wealth comes from commercial centres. In some cities the case for investing in the high street and its surrounding area is really a no-brainer."
Town teams are voluntarily led bodies drawn from across the business, resident and property sector which will be given a remit of solving problems and developing solutions for their areas.
Initiatives can include supporting more independent businesses at start-up stage, using disused properties for "meanwhile purposes", creating communal spaces for people to enjoy, planting trees and foliage and helping give more reasons for consumers to use their local high street.
Simon Webb said: "'Bristol's high streets have an opportunity to be the first in the UK to unilaterally create a better local economy.
"Through putting environments and community first, town teams can make a big difference to the local economy of their area.
"We need as many people as possible to sign up to the charter and show their support for another great Bristol led idea – town teams across the whole city.
"Hopefully, the mayoral candidates will then take notice and commit to funding this great opportunity."