A PROPERTY agent has called on the Government to take more positive action to reverse the decline of the high street.
John Truslove, who has offices in Redditch and Bromsgrove pointed out that shopping is one of the most dynamic elements of the economy and more could be done to help it.
He said: “We constantly read in the national media about the effects of the demise of high street retail on our economy.
“And although the Government commissioned the much-trumpeted Portas Report on the high street, not much in a practical way has resulted and I feel the high street is still being sold short by the powers-that-be, both local and national.
“Although an increasing amount of shopping is now done online, consumers still like to browse and an internet shopping presence is still not the same as touching and feeling the goods."
Mr Truslove argues that for those who still like to drive into a local, provincial town, there are too many obstacles in the way - parking being the biggest.
“Lack of parking, and the expense of what parking there is, will often deter people from picking a particular town for their shopping expedition – hence the popularity of out-of-town shopping parks where the parking is free and you can drive virtually to the door to load your shopping if necessary," he said.
“Some towns, such as Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford have gone down the park and ride route, but my experience is that consumers don’t like that. They want to be able to drive to a location near the shops they want to visit, park, and walk around.
“My solution would be take out pedestrianisation schemes, such as seen in Bromsgrove, and make roads through high street shopping areas one way.
“Making them one way would provide ample room for parking bays either side of the one way road and free parking for, say, two hours, would enable shoppers to park near the shops of their choice."
He maintained that the essential element required to revitalise the high street is that it needs to be quick and easy to park.
Mr Truslove added: “Parking is always the big issue, so let’s address it.
“Pedestrianisation doesn’t work. It leads to a major decline in footfall for those stores furthest from the available parking.
“A one way system, with a maximum 20mph speed limit, and two hours of free parking provides the best of both worlds."