Shadow Business Secretary backs the borough’s billion pound masterplan as The Bolton News Shop Local campaign gets underway to ‘Keep Bolton thriving’.
Rebecca Long-Bailey MP visited Bolton Town Centre to speak to traders and Bolton Council leader Linda Thomas about Labour’s ‘ambitious plans’ which is set to generate significant economic benefits not only for Bolton but also for the wider Northern Powerhouse region, with the potential to create new jobs for local residents.
“On the whole most of them were pleased by what’s happening in Bolton – they thought there was a lot of strategic direction from the council,” said Mrs Long-Bailey.
“Other retailers were concerned about transport links, I understand that Bolton doesn’t have trains on the weekend. That’s ludicrous!”
Speaking about the challenges facing traders, she told The Bolton News: “We know that right across the North West our towns, like Bolton, are struggling and it’s not just because of online retailing and people changing their shopping habits.
“There’s a whole range of issues and things can be done both on a local level – by the council taking strategic action and making long term policy decisions – but the government also needs to sit up and realise that our high streets need a lot more support, through a fair taxation system, reforming the business rates system and also providing local authorities with more money so that they can regenerate areas.”
She added: “It’s not just the case of expecting the government to support our high streets, it’s not just a case of expecting local authorities and businesses to step up their game. These shops and retail outlets won’t exist if we don’t shop in them and make sure they are the community hubs that we all want high streets to be.
“We want them to be the centre of activity, that place that we feel proud of, We’ve got to put our money where our mouth is and give them the support that they deserve.”
Council leader Linda Thomas said: “I don’t think people always realise how much it’s in their hands to keep towns thriving.”
She added: “We know we’ve got to be distinctive. We can’t just be like any other town centre. Smaller independent traders are the people who have devoted their lives to these businesses and it would be such a pity if they were to disappear.”