Did you see the news? All 118 Debenhams' remaining UK stores are closing down - including the one right here in Bromley - putting 12,000 jobs at risk nationwide. The chain's closure is going to leave a big hole in the heart of our high streets, as the former stalwart disappears from physical stores after 242 years of trading. A few days later we heard that Top Shop was going too, and of course we’d found out in November that Peacocks were going into administration, leaving a big hole in Penge and Orpington. And so many more have gone since the start of the pandemic, including Mothercare, Poundland, Laura Ashley
The disappearance of these - and so many more - household names is a sad symbol of the decline of our high streets, and it won't be the last store to fail and leave behind an empty shop front. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a great deal of harm to our high streets - and the economic pain is sadly far from over. We need to take action right now to support businesses, to support jobs and to ensure we are not left with a retail desert at the heart of our community.
Unfortunately, Bromley's Conservative Council is asleep at the wheel - their response is to do nothing. Contrast this with Lib Dem-run Sutton Council who just won £11.3m of Government funding to launch their ambitious programme to reinvent their high street. This innovative plan shows what can be achieved by a forward thinking proactive team. We need a change of approach here in Bromley too, to save and reinvent our high streets.
Bromley Lib Dems have a plan. We would re-build a better and stronger Bromley with thriving High Streets at the heart of the local economy and the community. Our proposals would help create a town centre that attracts independent and specialist shops, that serves as a hub for educational and cultural activities, that is accessible to all, and includes a truly "green" shopping centre that becomes one of the most environmentally sustainable shopping centres in London.
You can read the full report here. Highlights include proposals to:
- Encourage and support new businesses - enable more street-food vendors, visiting street entertainers and musicians, and children's play events to set up, perform and thrive in and around Bromley's town centre;
- Re-energise our Library - to make it a real community hub, with education, entertainment, health, community and cultural activities available to all; and
- Make access easier for all - including new cycle routes, safe well-lit clean pedestrian routes, better signage for bus-routes, and improved disabled access at Bromley South station and in The Glades.
The Lib Dem candidate for London Mayor, Luisa Porritt, has spoken of how the 600 neighbourhoods of London can lead the way to recovery and help create a brighter future for our communities. As one of those 600 neighbourhoods - this is our plan to help build a better, stronger Bromley - one focussed on the needs of its community.