By Claire West

A simple new health check to help local business people spot early signs of decline in their High Street was launched today by Business Minister Mark Prisk.

The ‘Healthy High Street’ guide is the first of its kind: a practical aid to help local businesses, councils and community organisations spot the early warning signs and prevent further degeneration.

The guide was produced with the help of business organisations, high street traders and town centre managers and is based on their real life experiences.

It includes tips such as how to check on whether an area is attractive to customers, whether there are good parking and public transport facilities and looking at the variety of shops on offer. It then helps them to work together to draw up an action plan for what needs to change to rejuvenate the area and put that plan into action.

Business Minister Mark Prisk said:

”There are almost 5,400 streets called ‘High Street’ in the country, but we recognise that some of these have faced real problems: empty shops, vandalism and loss of customers. Much of this could have been averted if they had spotted the signs early enough and if local people — chambers, town centre businesses and local authorities — had joined together to take appropriate action.

“My colleagues and I are committed to tackling these challenges head on. After all, our high streets need to be centres for economic growth as we move towards the recovery.

“This practical new guide is the first to identify indicators of future decline. Its healthcheck approach make it easier to assess the true state of a local high street, evaluate the risks and take real steps, such as establishing a Business Improvement District, and turn an area around.

“As the new local enterprise partnerships develop, the successes in a particular area can then be shared so that other high streets can benefit from their experiences, with the sort of local action that is at the heart of the Government’s Big Society agenda.”

The Healthy High Street? Guide can be downloaded from: