Hartlepol could lead the way for comeback of UK high street says town MP
MP Mike Hill says he hopes a nationwide resurgence of the high street starts in Hartlepool after the town was named in a government pilot project.
Hartlepool is one of 14 places set to receive specialist advice and support from industry experts who make up a new High Street Task Force.
They are due to work with council and shopping centre bosses to come up with ideas and initiatives to improve shopping in the town centre.
Mr Hill says Hartlepool’s inclusion in the project is welcome and needed.
He said: “Like many places we have suffered the loss of some big retail brands over the years like Woolworths and B&Q, and even now the likes of Bon Marche are closing down adding another empty retail unit to the Middleton Grange Shopping Centre.
“Hartlepool’s retail offer actually remains wide and varied, but is disperate; big brands like M&S, TK Maxx, Primark and Boots still exist and we still have the many splendid independent shops on York Road, where, thankfully unlike many other towns we are lucky to have retained branches of major high street banks and building societies.”
Mr Hill said the fact Hartlepool’s shops are spread around the town may have helped protect them from large scale decline seen in other places.
But he added: “A walk around our main shopping centre at Middleton Grange makes it all too obvious that something needs to be done to revitalise our Town Centre based retail offer before it goes into permanent decline.
“While clearly this is nothing more than the Government offering advice and expert opinion to local Stakeholders like the Council, Landlords and businesses it is important that Hartlepool has been chosen and the outcomes of the intervention in helping to revive High Streets across the Country will have its roots here. I sincerely hope we will benefit from that and that the resurgence of the High Street begins with us.”
The task force will be run by the Institute for Place Management on behalf of the Government.