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Stirling MP Calls for Strategic Focus on High Streets and City Centres


Categories: Constituency, Economics, Local Business, News

Long-term Consumer Trends Accelerated By Pandemic

Local Stirling MP Alyn Smith has called for long-term, strategic vision for high streets and city centres as retail continues to face severe economic pressures.

In a speech in the House of Commons, Mr Smith spoke highly of the success of small, local, independent businesses in high streets across Stirling – but highlighted governments in all spheres must do more to address the strategic challenges accelerated by the pandemic.

In a world of changing consumer habits, governments from at the local, national and UK level must develop and change thinking if communities such as Stirling are to see their local economic models thrive.

Business rates, planning regulations and macro-economic policy must chart a clear course towards sustainable, modern and successful city centres and high streets. Only by working in partnership with industry can governments of all parties and spheres ensure the legacy of the pandemic delivers better outcomes for communities than before.

Joint-working, as demonstrated by Stirling’s business improvement district ‘Go Forth Stirling’ sets out clearly how resources and goals can be better managed to ensure residents, businesses and consumers get the most from their local economy.

Alyn Smith MP said:

‘Globally, we see clear evidence of changing consumer habits and economic patterns. The Covid-19 pandemic has sent these trends into overdrive, and I urge governments at all levels to recognise this seismic movement for what it is: a chance to reinvent local economies around sustainable, interesting, engaging and viable businesses and organisations.

‘The strength of retail, since the advent of the industrial revolution and beyond, has been its ability to adapt to changing circumstances. The rise of automation and digital sales has changed the game. As legislators, policy makers and community leaders, politicians must earnestly look at the underlying structures at play to ensure the laws and regulations in place facilitate the local economies we wish to see, rather than act as a detriment.

‘We live in economically precarious times, as we head into a winter of uncertainty – still feeling the effects of labour and supply shortages from the pandemic and Brexit. Local retail is the bread and butter of our high streets and city centres, and our sense of place. We must act now to facilitate a transition geared towards the needs and desires of our communities, before market forces bring change upon us regardless.’

A video of the speech can be viewed here: