Liberal Democrats condemn Boris Johnson over small shops

Haringey Liberal Democrats have given the London Mayor’s plans for small shops a big thumbs down, describing his new policy as potentially damaging to the future of the borough’s shopping parades.

On 31st July 2008, Mayor of London Boris Johnson outlined measures to ensure that more affordable small shops are provided for in new retail developments. But local councillors feel that the plan fails to promote the use of local high streets and could indeed make things worse.

Under the new measures developers will enter into legally binding agreements to provide an agreed number of affordable small shop units when major retail schemes are proposed. Liberal Democrats have criticised the Mayor’s plan for encouraging small shops to move to large ‘out-of-town’ developments rather than helping local shopping areas.

In Crouch End alone there are sixteen empty shop units with many other traders reporting hard times.

Cllr Rachel Allison, Liberal Democrat Regeneration Spokesperson, commented:

“There is nothing in these proposals to offer a crumb of hope for small shops struggling on our high streets with massive rent increases and poor council support. Boris seems intent on killing them off. Encouraging people to visit massive out of town shopping developments is against all green thinking.”

Cllr David Winskill, who is campaigning for the small retail sector in Crouch End, added:

“All this does is to make big malls and out of town centres more attractive and will divert trade from places like Crouch End and Muswell Hill. At least the initiative is consistent with his anti-environment policies. What our high streets need are support, better public transport infrastructure and a local council that works with traders. This is very disappointing.”

Hornsey and Wood Green MP Lynne Featherstone added:

“Many of the shopping parades in our borough are unique and are under threat from big out of town developments. This plan would spell disaster for traders who are already struggling. The proposals are simply ludicrous and London’s new mayor must think again.”