Towns and villages around Britain, including Worcester High Street, are set to battle it out after making it onto the shortlist for the Great British High Street Awards.
The competition to find Britain’s best high streets is highlighting new and innovative ways to boost high streets and ideas that will be shared with others.
It is shining a light on hard working traders and communities around the country and showing what can be done to help shopping streets evolve to be places where people want to shop, socialise and work.
The high street has been the cornerstone of the community for decades and today we are starting to see them re-emerge with a renewed sense of self confidence.
The Government is committed to high streets as part of its long-term economic plan and is supporting local shops and businesses with a billion pound package of investment that includes targeted business rate discounts, sensible planning changes and action that reins in over-zealous parking practices.
High Streets Minister Penny Mordaunt said:
“There is a real sense of momentum behind our high streets and I’m determined that the hard work of people who have strived to make their high streets great places to work, shop and live is not only recognised but shared with others so they too can learn valuable tips for success.
“We have seen a lot of enthusiasm for this competition and I’ve heard first hand on my tour on high streets around the country how proud people are of their streets and the value they place on them as an essential part of their community.”
The contest is being run by the Future High Street Forum and received more than 135 entries from across the UK. More than a third of town teams – local groups set up to support their high street – entered their street.
There are seven categories – coastal, market town, city, village, local parade, town centre and London.
The entries were whittled down to a shortlist of 21 and will now be visited by a member of the judging panel which consists of key players from the Forum. A winner will then be selected for each category and announced in a month or so.
People can show their support for their local high street on twitter using #GBHighSt or by visiting www.thegreatbritishhighstreet.co.uk
The winners will win a share of £50,000 prize money and receive dedicated support and mentoring from industry experts. This could range from one to one coaching to advice on creating business plans to workshops on digital marketing.
February 2014 saw devastating floods hit the UK and Worcester was severely affected with the river reaching record levels. Regional and national media were conveying the false message that the town centre was cut off and therefore closed. The previous floods of 2007 had resulted in a very slow return to normal trading figures for many High Street businesses and they were keen to avoid a repeat situation.
Partners worked on an extensive media campaign to convey the fact that the High Street was open for business. Businesses on the High Street got involved by being photographed with the now famous open4business chalkboard and forwarded key general messages as well as their own images to get the message across. The Local Authority laid on coaches to ensure the high street remained accessible despite rising flood waters. An 18.7% drop in footfall on the High Street (year on year) during the week of the floods was turned into just a 0.2% drop the week after the peak of the flood and then an 8.4% increase the following week