The Government has announced the appointment of a panel of experts to diagnose issues affecting the health of the UK’s high streets and offer advice on how they can thrive.

Challenges on the high streetExpert Panel Assembled to Tackle High Street Crisis

High Streets Minister Jake Berry MP announced this week that the panel will be chaired by Sir John Timpson, Chairman of Timpson, the multiple service retailer.

Other panel members include Vidhya Alakeson (CEO, Power to Change), Councillor Graham Galpin from Ashford council (responsible for the town’s economic vitality), Eric Reynolds (Founding Director of Urban Space Management) and Sophia de Sousa (CEO, The Glass-House).

The panel will focus on what consumers and local communities want from their high streets and the current challenges high streets face before working on options to revitalise town centres and ensure they remain vibrant.

Jake Berry MP said:

“High streets and small businesses are the backbone of our economy and we want to see them thrive now and in the future.”

However, Mr Berry pointed out that local high streets are changing and need to offer a wider range of experiences in future, from leisure to health services, while retaining their role as the heart of communities.

“Our future high streets may well feature more homes, childcare centres and gyms to bring people back and ensure that they keep returning.”

Great British High Street Awards

The announcement was made at the start of Great British High Street Week, an event that promotes The Great British High Street Awards 2018. The awards, run by MHCLG, and sponsored by Visa, are open for nominations until 22 August 2018.

They celebrate the best high streets across the nation and will also champion ‘Rising Stars’, high streets that are taking the lead and working together to revive, adapt and diversify. The shortlisted entries will be announced in September and the winners will be announced in November 2018.

Speaking about the change in high streets and the threat posed by online shopping and out of town shopping centres, Sir John Timpson warned there would be no quick fix solutions. However, he said the panel “hope to identify practical and common-sense decisions that will help the government provide the support that local communities and businesses need to provide the leisure and shopping facilities people will want 25 years from now.”

Later this summer, the expert panel will join forces with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to research what members of the public and young people in particular want from the high streets of the future.

To find out more, visit Great British High Street and follow the campaign on social media using #myhighstreet.