By Marcus Leach

Newly appointed leader of a Government commissioned independent review into the High Street, Mary Portas, will begin her high streets visits on Wednesday.

The visits are the first of a number of engagement events Mary will undertake across the country as part of her review.

During Wednesday’s visit Mary Portas will speak to high street businesses, local authorities and shoppers.

"The High Street should be at the heart of every community, bringing people together, providing essential services and creating jobs and investment," Business Minister Edward Davey said.

“So I am delighted that Mary Portas will make her first town centre visits to Rugby and Sparkbrook which are regarded by the Association of Town Centre Managers as exemplars of best practice.

“I look forward to seeing Mary’s final report which will identify what government, businesses and local communities can do to develop more prosperous and diverse high streets.”

Mary Portas said:

“I am visiting town centres across the country to find solutions for the problems that are blighting our high streets.

“Rugby and Sparkbrook are good examples of suburb towns that face tough competition being on the doorstep of a big city but have found innovative solutions to attract business.

“I hope to draw on the creativity of everyone involved in high streets whether they are independent shop owners, chain store managers, bookmakers, librarians or town centre managers.

“With town centre vacancy rates doubling over the last two years, the need to take action to save our high streets has never been starker.”

Chairman of Rugby First, Robin Richter said:

“We are delighted that Mary Portas has selected Rugby as part of her research into how to regenerate town centres nation wide.

“We are certain that she will leave with a basket full of ideas which could be applied elsewhere.

“She will also leave with a number of well thought through suggestions as to how central government can help to get town centres get back on their feet after the worst recession in a generation”.

Cllr Timothy Huxtable, Cabinet Member for Transport, Environment and Regeneration at Birmingham City Council, said:

“Local High Streets not only provide the lifeblood of our economy, but are also often the hub of local communities themselves, making it crucial that we do all we can to support and enhance them.

“While there are undoubtedly pockets of good initiatives underway within many shopping centres, such as Sparkbrook and Springfield already, I really hope Mary’s work can further enhance these efforts and share the very best ideas and practices around the whole country.”

Rugby high street is managed by Rugby First an independent not for profit company which with its partner Rugby Borough Council is responsible for all things related to the town centre.

Rugby First was one of the original Business Improvement Districts (BID’S), extra space a defined area within which businesses pay an additional tax or fee in order to fund improvements within the district's boundaries.

The independent review will seek to identify what government, local authorities and businesses can do to promote the development of more prosperous and diverse high streets.

It will also form part of the Government’s wider Growth Review which is examining how it can remove the barriers to achieve strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries.

Join us on
Follow @freshbusiness