Top priorities to save town’s high streets revealed

A CUTTING edge project to help three Yorkshire town centre thrive has identified the top priorities for immediate action.

Retailers in Morley will capitalise on events like the St Georges Day Parade.

Business experts from Manchester Met University (MMU) chose Barnsley, Morley and Holmfith as three of ten across the country to take part in a pioneering £250,000 project to breathe new life into high streets, High Street UK 2020.

After hosting a workshop with retailers in the towns, they’ve come up with a list of priorities on what each should focus on to see them thrive.

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They include tackling anti-social behaviour in Barnsley, more support fro the business community in Homfirth and changing opening hours to meet shoppers needs are among those in Morley.

Professor Cathy Parker, chair of retail and marketing enterprise at MMU said that although high streets will continue to be affected by forces outside of their control, like the state of the economy, they need to look at what they can influence locally to improve.

She said: “In Homfirth, a very diverse group of people came together to make a positive difference.

“People’s perception is that it is stuck in the past, like Last of the Summer Wine, but here you have a group of people who are trying to attract new workspaces into the town centre so that people can set up their own businesses.

“For some towns, catchment is an issue. Some people haven’t visited their own town for three years and seen the development that’s taken place.

“A lot of people would be surprised to see what is on offer if they went into their town centres - Barnsley for example, has really nice retail areas like the arcade and the market.

“Retailers need to work collectively to find out what people want and to provide, whether that be from what they offer or from their opening hours.”

The next stage in the scheme, which runs all year, is a conference at MMU next week, where anyone involved in a town centre can get free business advice.