Boris Johnson vows to 'save pubs, post offices and the high street'
15 November 2019, 06:26
Boris Johnson is pledging to support the high street with a raft of sweeping measures to protect local services, cut business rates and re-connect villages to the rail network.
The Prime Minister has promised a package of measures and hundreds of millions of pounds of investment, to support towns and communities across Britain.
In a move likely to appeal to rural voters Mr Johnson is promising to "save our high streets, keep pubs and post offices open," but Labour has criticised the move saying the Tories are "destroying our high streets and towns."
A Tory Party spokesperson said a majority Conservative government will build on the Government’s Towns Fund, the measures are designed to help places which have not always benefited from economic growth in the same way as more prosperous areas.
Pledging to "keep the high street open for business," the Tories say they will cut business rates for shops, cinemas and pubs.
Under the proposals, many corner shop will receive a £1,400 cut in their business rates due to the extension in the retail discount.
Up to half a million businesses will benefit, with the discount extended to all cinemas and music venues.
Saving pubs and post offices is also a promise with the Tories pledging to help community groups who want to buy their local pubs and post offices with a £150m fund and a 9-month ban on sale to other bidders.
More than a fifth of sub-postmasters, who run the Post Office franchises across the UK, have said they plan to resign or downsize because of increasing financial pressures, according to a report from industry body National Federation of SubPostmasters.
Part of the plan involves a £500m fund which will be used to "re-connect towns and villages to the rail network," by restoring lines and stations removed by the 1960s Beeching Report.
Hannah Essex a director of the British Chambers of Commerce said the deterioration of high street firms was costing Britain thousands of jobs a year.
She added: “All parties should commit to a fundamental review of business rates and infrastructure.
Boris Johnson claimed the plans would help save local high streets and keep essential services open.
Mr Johnson said: “For too long, too many towns and villages across Britain have been overlooked and left behind. When the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016, many communities felt their voices had been heard for the first time in decades and their lives would improve.
“We will invest in these communities and help people put the heart back into the places they call home. We need to get Brexit done so that we can unleash the potential of all our towns, cities and villages. We will be able to save our high streets, keep pubs and post offices open and re-connect places to the rail network half a century after they were cut off.
“But that can only happen if we end the dither, delay and paralysis in Westminster. We need to get Brexit done so the country can move on. We need a Conservative majority government which will deliver for communities across Britain – not a Corbyn-Sturgeon alliance which would expend all its energy on two more chaotic referendums.”
Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s Shadow Communities Secretary, commenting on the Tories towns announcement:
“The Tories are destroying our high streets and towns.
"A decade of vicious cuts to the services that people in our communities rely on, has taken 60p in every £1 from council budgets.
“There is a clear choice in this election on 12 December: more of the same with Boris Johnson’s Tories or real change and investment under Labour."