Task force visit to help boost high streets

Published Tuesday 14 July 2020

Shop managers and retailers were able to speak directly to a high streets’ expert on Friday when the head of a task panel visited Market Harborough as part of a fact-finding mission.

Mark Robinson, chairman of the High Streets Task Force visited Market Harborough and was joined by local MP Neil O’Brien and Leader of Harborough District Council Cllr Phil King.

Task force visit

They spent time chatting to a number of retailers in the town centre discussing how businesses are bouncing back post-lockdown, as well as some of the challenges they are facing.

It was also a chance to discuss some of the measures put in place by the Council to ensure town centres could reopen safely.

The high-profile visit comes in the same week that Harborough District Council launched a Shop Local campaign encouraging shoppers back to our high streets.

Mark Robinson said: “This was my first visit to Market Harborough, of what will be many trips, to get a sense for how the High Street Task Force support is being used or where more help is needed. As an attractive market town, Market Harborough has many advantages, but it was great to see the District Council promoting best practice and not resting on their laurels to help the town thrive.

“It was really interesting to see how some businesses have adapted to the Covid-19 challenge and how others have very different experiences of initiatives such as the pedestrianisation of key streets.

“It was very clear that there is a great sense of community and that social distancing is being well observed, that Harborough district is a welcoming and safe place to shop, meet friends for lunch and start to get back to work.”

Last month, Harborough District Council introduced a number of measures in Lutterworth and Market Harborough town centres to help create a safe shopping environment including ‘Highstreet Helpers’ wearing high-visibility vests, public hand sanitiser stations, and street markings to show people where to queue.

Some of the measures were funded by the Government’s Reopening High Streets Safely Fund to help get people back to work and customers back to the shops.

Cllr King said: “We are very pleased to Mark for taking the time to visit our district; I’d like to thank all those who were available to talk to us so we could hear more from about the challenges faced in the reopening of the high streets and where we can focus our efforts to help.”

The High Streets Task Force was commissioned by the Government in 2019 as part of its ‘Plan for the High Street’ and in response to recommendations of an expert panel on the high street.

It aims to share information, advice, training, knowledge and data – helping people to make a positive difference to communities across England.

Neil O'Brien MP said: "It was great to welcome Mark to Market Harborough and show him the importance a successful high street can have for the local community, especially during these difficult times. I would encourage people to go out and enjoy the shops and support our wonderful independent stores."

Task force visit