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Bars could be ‘life-belt’ to struggling high street

Bars and restaurants could be crucial to saving the “beleaguered” high street by boosting the night-time economy, a new study by the Portman Group has revealed.

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Bars could be key to saving the high street, local councils claim

The majority of councils in England (92%) support this notion, according to the study, which was conducted in partnership with the Local Government Information Unit.

The survey questioned senior official and politician decision-makers within English local authorities. Nearly three quarters (74%) of councils said the development of their local night time economies was a key priority or important, but only one in five (22%) councils have a dedicated night-time economy strategy.

Jonathan Carr West, chief executive of the Local Government Information Unit, said: “With customers spending more time and money online, a varied night-time economy could be a life-belt to the beleaguered high street.

“Encouraging activities and venues that appeal to a wide range of people is, rightly, important to local councillors.

“A national strategy would help councils get the best out of the night-time economy, to the benefit of everyone in the community.”

As such, the Portman Group and the Local Government Information Unit are calling for a national level policy for the night-time economy, arguing three-quarters of councils have said they would welcome a system to help them share best practice across England.

The survey also showed that almost nine in 10 councils (88%) across the country treat the night-time economy as a means of supporting local businesses and job creation.

John Timothy, CEO of the Portman Group, said: “Partnership working between the police, businesses, local authorities and other stakeholders is already happening in communities up and down the country to make the night time economy safer and more inclusive.

“This is crucial at a time when we know our high streets are changing, with online retailers challenging traditional operators and more shops standing empty.

“We need to further develop these models of partnership working to deliver vibrant night time environments that can help revive and retain our much-loved high streets and town centres as well as boosting the local economy.”

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