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Retail NI and NILGA Call For High Streets Taskforce

Retail NI and the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) have jointly called for the Executive to establish a High Streets Taskforce to spearhead a combined push for the regeneration of our town and city centres in the aftermath of Covid-19.

Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

“Creating 21st century high streets was a challenge before COVID-19; now it is an even bigger one as we chart the long way forward for retail, hospitality and our economy as a whole”

“We now need a fundamental reinvention of our high streets - it’s going to require new levels of partnership between the Executive, Councils, business and wider society to achieve all of this. Since the start of the pandemic, place leaders in our town centres have been managing its impact with the certainty that the ‘old normal’ is not a recipe for the long-term future. As habits change, then so must our retail sector and high streets”

“The newly established High Streets Taskforce in England quite rightly describes this regeneration framework of being the four Rs: repositioning, reinventing, rebranding and restructuring. These ‘four Rs’ require a new vision, a changed offer to consumers, better stakeholder communication and perhaps most important of all - changing the governance of our high streets”

“That is why we need a Northern Ireland High Streets Taskforce which creates this new partnership model and starts us on this new beginning. Retail NI has written to the Communities Minister to propose this as part of the Executive’s wider economic recovery response package. The Executive has made a good start in supporting our high streets, with rates holidays, £300k for Business Improvement Districts and allowing greater flexibility on pavement café licences -but they must go further”

NILGA President Cllr Matt Garret said:

“The importance of retailing to the communities and economy of the North cannot be overstated. We need collective, urgent action. A Taskforce for High Streets of this type would be a positive, joint step forward - retailers, central and local government working together. Place-based approaches are seen to really work, so the role of councils in a post Covid recovery of the High Street – whether rural or urban – and the resources required to do it well - will be clearly communicated by NILGA to the Economy Minister and the Assembly Committee in the coming days.”