In December last year, the Department for Communities and Local Government published the Portas Review: an independent review, led by Mary Portas, into the future of our high streets and town centres. It is an issue that is often brought up locally, with empty shops being a problem here in Walkden, but also in nearby Swinton and Eccles. The review made a wide range of recommendations, which the Government are looking at.
In the meantime, the Government are offering a share of £1 million for towns and high streets to become “Portas pilots”. It’s an opportunity for a town like Walkden or Swinton to try something a bit different with some external funding and see if it makes a difference. Towns across the country are putting in bids, but from Salford’s Labour Council there is just deafening silence. Where is Salford’s Portas bid? Why are local residents not being asked to support it? Why is this opportunity being allowed to slide past when we have local businesses that are in desperate need of support?
Sadly, the Labour Council has a track record of not supporting local businesses. I was in Monton on Saturday with our Mayoral Candidate Karen Garrido, and it is clear that the dreadful decision to impose parking charges on Monton Village Car Park has really hurt local traders. That’s why under the Conservative alternative budget, local shoppers and businesses would receive one hour of free parking at all Council car parks. Our alternative budget also proposed to allow all City businesses access to a business fund currently restricted to MediaCity:UK tenants. Sadly, these plans were rejected by Labour.