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Caerphilly Business Forum blog: Looking after our town centres is looking after ourselves

Published in Comment, News. Last updated on Thursday February 9th, 2012 at 13:00

By

Andrew Diplock, chairman of Caerphilly Business Forum

Andrew Diplock, chairman of Caerphilly Business Forum

According to the national media last month, Christmas wasn’t as bad as many retailers feared. They then went on to cite anecdotal evidence for this from “some of the biggest names on the High Street”.

Unfortunately, such sweeping statements increasingly miss the reality facing many retailers and even communities.

Most retailers are not “one of the biggest names on the High Street” which by definition are huge, nationwide or even international brands rather than small, independent stores or chains. And often the big names are no longer on the High Street but in an out-of-town retail development.

In the last couple of weeks, two important reports have highlighted the problems facing our High Streets.

First the National Assembly’s Enterprise and Business Committee flagged up out-of-town developments, rising business rates and town-centre car-parking charges as among the main problems and called for a better co-ordinated policy to combat them and rescue our ailing town centres.

Then, earlier this week, a report by the Local Data Company predicted High Street occupancy rates across the UK will fall this year. The UK average has one-in-seven High Street premises standing empty.

Pleasingly, the Assembly report holds up Caerphilly as a model for others to copy after a conscious effort was made to attract businesses to the town centre by creating more attractive conditions. Up the road in Bargoed the regeneration, although still in progress, has made a remarkable difference and other towns in the county borough are being enhanced.

The local authority hopes this approach will attract new investment and help existing businesses as well as bringing the community back into our town centres to create a vibrant and pleasant environment.

But we can’t just leave it to the local authority to do this. We need to support our town centres in every way we can. They have a profound effect on the health of our communities.

Looking after them is looking after ourselves.

Andrew Diplock
Chairman, Caerphilly Business Forum

For more information about Caerphilly Business Forum and its events call 029 2125 1395 or email Natalie@cbforum.co.uk

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  • Samantha Minas

    I totally support the idea of great town centres with a variety of vibrant independent shops and producers. But you can have as many policies and 'business support', grants etc as you like. Until the planners in the local authority start working with it's other departments you will keep seeing, Tescos, Gregs and Costa Coffee springing up next to wonderful old family businesses like Glanmors! Caerphilly town centre has huge potential, but it's not even approaching what's possible, it's just going down the route of every other town centre up and down the country by taking the boring old chain businesses that you can see on every other high street. There are lots of extremely talented small producers and businesses in Caerphilly. I want to see brave, ambitious and different!

  • Trefor Bond

    Wales at UnLtd; – what’s this all about???- Perhaps Samantha can tell everyone how all those struggling small and independent trading businesses, particularly in Caerphilly town Centre, can access the money-grants-entrepreneurial expertises – which this organisation is said to provide in its charter, and let them learn from the considerable help that that organisation has given to larger and more prosperous firms in this area?.

    It`s all very well to bleat on about parochial indigenous businesses, and, this includes those individual people who work very hard to scrape a living already, but it is another thing to find schemes and statutory provisions, and my comment here includes schemes financed by local and central government but delivered by very prosperous `Third Sector` providers, which offers any meaningful `support` services to local struggling entrepreneurs.

    Perhaps the following helps in local, struggling, independent traders ( that is what Samantha referred to) deciding if `Wales at UnLtd `is for them

    “UnLtd is a charitable organisation set up by seven leading organisations that promote social entrepreneurship.

    UnLtd – the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs – wants to support and develop the role of social entrepreneurs as a force for positive change in the United Kingdom. In the short to medium term UnLtd will achieve this by providing:

    • Awards to social entrepreneurs

    • A UK wide Fellowship of people who have received awards

    • Research into the impact of social entrepreneurs on society “

    So, it helps by handing out meaningless, sycophantic `awards` to struggling local independent traders,? I dont think so when what they need is help with crippling business rates largely levied on second rate properties in the town, help with power and utility bills, and help from Caerphilly Council Managers to encourage more shoppers and visitors to the town by offering free parking.

  • peter herring

    if Caerphilly is a model for others, than God help the rest. The town centre is dying on its feet, Cardiff Road is grim and dismal with quite frankly nothing to attract the discerning shopper, unless you are a charity shop browser, or an habitue of the betting shop.

  • clive betts

    Oh, we can so easily be negative. Caer's succsss is a supermarket (and I don't mean Tesco's), a real street of modern shops, an older street (OK, Cardiff Road), a new pub (Wetherspoon's, but why did it take so long).