Councils accused of using high streets as 'cash cows'
A leading financial administrator has accused councils of contributing to the demise of the UK high street with excessive local charges.
Lee Manning, lead administrator for failed firm Blockbuster, has accused local authorities of being ‘obsessed’ with using high street retail as a cash cow rather supporting the struggling sector and supporting growth.
‘Local authorities have obsessed with raising revenues from parking at the expense of the shops that bring people to those high streets,’ he told the Telegraph newspaper.
Manning, also a partner at accountancy giant Deloitte, accepted other factors such as online competition were important but said central and local government had done too little to help.
He said the Government’s tie-up with local authorities and Mary Portas, the retail expert, to help save local high streets was too little, too late.
He also highlighted that even when shops close down, landlords have to pay the council the rates for the property, meaning there is little or no financial impact on authorities if retailers go bust.
Since the beginning of the year administrations at HMV, Blockbuster, and Jessops have put 10,300 jobs at risk, with a potential 1,000 store closures on the cards.
In conclusion, Manning gave a grim analysis of the prospects for retail, commenting that it was ‘all over’ for the British high street.
Size of town is important as are the car park facilities. Under utilized carparks could have concessions which could include a limited amount of free parking possibly determined by the least busy times like late afternoon. Car parking in town centres is a sensitive issue and needs to be looked at creatively as motorists who have the choice of free parking at supermarkets and out of town retail parks can and do choose these options over town centres that have excessive charges.diana cutler, treasurer Victory Christian Centre, Added: Tuesday, 12 February 2013 08:31 PM
For those criticising councils for charging for parking. Can you suggest how you control free car parks to prevent them being completely overtaken by town centre employees and traders? If you suggest wardens and maximum parking times by the issuing of no charge tickets, how would this be paid for? Should all local taxpayers be required to subsidise free car parking through their council tax, even those without a car, or never use the town centre shops?Roger Gambba-Jones, Added: Monday, 11 February 2013 01:17 PM
Sad to see so many negative comments berating councils and all based on, for the most part, a completely erroneous criticism. Some councils do kick the backside out of parking charges, even though the legislation directs otherwise. However, Local councils DO NOT set the business rates. This man is at the top of his profession supposedly and yet makes such a fundamental mistake! Incidentally, there's some recent research that strongly suggests parking charges DON'T have an impact.Roger Gambba-Jones, Added: Monday, 11 February 2013 01:12 PM
Councils should dramatically cut their costs, to reduce the Council Tax and Business rates. The other daft thing was asking local residents to pay to park their own cars in their own town. - Tax on tax. - All to preserve Council jobs, high salaries and unaffordable pensions.J Smith, Added: Tuesday, 5 February 2013 08:04 PM
Sadly, companies such as Blockbuster, HMV and Jessops have failed due to their lack of strategic planning and reluctance to let go of outdated trading practices. Manning ought to stop blaming others and take responsibility himself for the woeful performance of his compant.Geoff Vader, Head of Catering, Deathstar Inc, Added: Tuesday, 5 February 2013 08:24 AM
The truth is that companies like Blockbuster were taken to the edge by the management rather than recognise the changing market they were in. Consequently shareholders, staff and creditors were left with worthless bits of paper. The directors negligence or hubris should be a criminal offence. Blaming local government is pathetic.Patrick Newman, ex local government, Stevenage, Added: Monday, 4 February 2013 04:10 PM
All the Blockbuster stores I have visited (although I have not been in one for years)were in locations where there are no parking charges. Surely his observations are way off the mark. I suggest that on line comppetition is the main reason for the demise of this chain.Martin Beard, Added: Monday, 4 February 2013 03:49 PM
Is anyone remotely surprised at the myopic greed exhibitted by Council's around the country. The last thing on the Council's mind is the rate paying public. Every decision made by the public sector is geared to ensuring their pension pot has a plentiful supply of funds, including selling off amenity space demanded by the planning department when housing developments were in vogue. There is a conflcit of interest between public and private sectors; the public sector is past its sell by dateMichael Dewar, Added: Monday, 4 February 2013 03:43 PM
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