LONDON, January 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
The national organisation promoting professional management of the UK's town centres and high streets has followed up the Mary Portas Review by calling for sweeping changes to business rates, car parking policies, planning and property law.
The Association of Town Centre Management (ATCM) 10-point Manifesto for Town Centres and High Streets, launched a month after the publication of the Review, encourages support for managers of the UK's traditional shopping, entertainment, cultural, public service and transport hubs.
It adds to the growing calls for investment in the first of Portas' 28 recommendations, at a time when local authorities are cutting their town centre management budgets.
ATCM Chief Executive, Martin Blackwell said: "Mary has highlighted many of the problems town centres face and has properly put management at the top of her shopping list of solutions.
"Unlike a single-owner shopping centre, there is no natural leader for the high street. Local authorities have often assumed the role, but many towns are losing their town centre managers because of budget cuts.
"We hope this Manifesto will help win the argument for continuing with town centre management despite the squeeze."
The ATCM believes that free parking at out-of-town retail parks and malls disenfranchises people who do not have cars and unfairly undercuts town centres.
"Ending the business rate exemption given to them would give a major boost to the amount local authorities could reinvest in town centres," said Blackwell, "including giving discretionary rate relief to small businesses.
"The 1954 Landlord & Tenant Act should meet contemporary and future needs and make it easier to identify, contact and engage owners."
The Manifesto calls for plan-led approaches to economic development that include statutory town centre strategies and are developed through partnerships with businesses, landlords, developers, local communities and consumers of the full range of town centre services.
It calls for attractive, well-managed and safe public spaces with activities and events including general and specialist markets, entertainment and an improved provision of public toilets, especially for women who are currently underserved by the available facilities.
More support is needed to develop supplemental rates-funded Business Improvement Districts which can provide additional services that local authorities are often financially unable to provide.
The 10-point Manifesto can be found on-line at http://www.atcm.org.
Editors' note: For more information, contact Richard Dennery after 12pm, Thursday on +44(0)7885-945404 or Richard.Dennery@gmail.com
SOURCE ATCM Association of Town Centre Management