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Issue:- 13 March 2015

Launch of Great Britain high street competition 2015

THE Government has launched the 2nd 'Great British High Street' competition giving Towns and Cities the opportunity to win a share of £50,000.  High Streets Minister Penny Mordaunt called on communities across the country to enter the competition and celebrate their success in transforming Towns and Cities into great places to shop and socialise.

The 1st 'Great British High Street' competition last year saw 135 communities battle it out to be crowned the nation's best. Belper in Derbyshire emerged as the overall winner.

Penny Mordaunt said she wanted to see even more entries this year with communities for the first time having the chance to vote directly for their best loved high street.  "High streets are a vital part of our economy supporting thousands of jobs in retail and leisure but they are also the heart of all communities providing a great place for friends and family to meet. There is so much amazing innovation happening on our high streets. We want to reward the great work that is being done to improve these crucial assets as well as showcase ideas which can be a springboard for others to try. The first competition last year was a tremendous success and I want this year to be even better."

The competition is designed to help revitalise high streets by promoting the great work that is being done and sharing good ideas across the country.

As well as the cash prize, winners will also receive dedicated support and mentoring from industry experts which could range from one to one coaching to advice on digital marketing.

The competition categories are:-

► Best city centre high street.

► Best town centre high street.

► Best market town high street.

► Best coastal community high street.

► Best village high street.

► Best parade of shops.

► Best London high street.

The nominations will come from throughout the UK and a shortlist will be announced in early August. Those shortlisted will be visited by the Future High Streets Forum judging panel made up of industry leaders from across retail, property and business. Residents will be able to vote online when shortlisted candidates are announced.

The Government is committed to reviving the country's high streets as part of its long term economic plan and is supporting local shops and businesses with a billion pound package of investment that includes targeted business rate discounts and sensible planning changes.

In addition, the Government last week gave the green light for the introduction of 10 minute parking grace period to make parking in Town Centres easier. The parking measures are a victory for drivers and 1 of a number of initiatives brought in by the government to give local shops a fairer deal.

Joanne Bamford, Belper Town Team and Great British High Street Competition Winner and Overall Champion said:- "Winning the Great British High Street has been a wonderful boost to the town, stimulating interest and encouraging new partners to work with us. Local residents are more aware of how special their town is and the publicity has encouraged visitors from neighbouring areas to make a trip to see what the town has to offer. On the back of the competition we have received enquiries from new retailers considering expanding into the town, prospective residents looking to relocate and looking for a town with a real identity to coach companies planning to visit the area. The award has provided us with a wonderful platform to promote our town and the innovative projects delivered by the partners. It has also generated a number of new ideas which we hope to implement to allow the town to continue to improve and build on the success. We would really encourage villages, town and high streets to get involved in the 2015 competition."

A renewed focus on our high streets has led to a revival in many areas across the UK with latest figures showing that year on year average weekly retail sales increased by 4.8% in January 2015.  This was the 23rd consecutive month of retail sales growth and the longest period of sustained year on year growth since May 2008. Overall vacancy rates are now at their lowest level since 2010 and reoccupation rates for the high street are much higher, at 70%, than they are for shopping centres or retail parks.

Details of how to enter the competition can be found at:- TheGreatBritishHighStreet.Co.UK. The deadline for entries is Friday, 17 July 2015.

Further Information

The national competition is being run by the Future High Streets Forum. Last year's winners were:-

City category – Norwich Lanes.
Coastal category – Colwyn Bay, Wales.
Market Town – Belper, Derbyshire (also chosen as overall high street champion).
Local Centre – Barnoldswick, Lancashire.
Village Category – Broxburn, West Lothian, Scotland.
Town Centre – Wantage, Oxfordshire.
London – Kingston.

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