The Booksellers Association has criticised the government for failing to tackle business rates and parking restrictions in local towns in its response to the Mary Portas report.
While welcoming the fact the government has taken the Mary Portas review “seriously” today (30th March) by accepting all 28 of the recommendations she made to improve the high street, the BA’s head of trade and industry Sydney Davies said the government needed to go further on the two issues affecting booksellers the most.
He said: “The greater needs are to tackle business rates - where the government has simply urged local authorities to look at their new powers under the Localism Act to provide business rate discounts to small business and independent retailers, parking - where only a ‘consultation’ has been offered on proposals to abolish the centrally set minimum charge for parking and in change of class use – which has not been addressed and the focus is on merely the ability to revoke out-of-date byelaws.”
Davies welcomed the government’s support for “Town Teams”, a £10m fund of taxpayers’ money to support business start-ups and the Future High Street X-Funds – a plan to award towns that deliver the most effective rejuvenation schemes in a year's time with £1m and a pot of £500,000 fund to help towns access loans, all announced today.
Davies added: “While the government plays a crucial role in providing the infrastructure to regenerate the high street and bricks and mortar businesses, we must also give credit to those enterprising booksellers who have and continue to work so hard in making their businesses a success and an essential hub in their local communities. In particular, we want to highlight the huge enthusiasm of bookshops who have been instrumental in applying for Portas Pilots in their local areas and also the hard work in supporting community initiatives such as Independent Booksellers Week and World Book Day.”