Green Party candidates in the County Elections, being held on Thursday 4th May 2017, are conducting a survey of empty shops of the Cowley and Oxford roads in Oxford beginning at 2.30pm, Friday 14th April 2017, meeting near the Plain on the north side of the Cowley Road. The Greens are concerned about the number of empty shops along these roads and how the causes can be addressed.
Councillor David Williams, Leader of the Green Group on the County Council, comments that, “Green Party campaigners for St Clements, Nuala Young, and Cowley, Hazel Dawe, share my concern as Green County Councillor for Iffley Fields and St Mary’s that our major commercial axis across East Oxford has a rising number of empty shops. It is clear that increasing costs are hitting small shop businesses whilst larger retailers with significant profit margins are less badly damaged as the expenses of running shops rises (1). Costs have risen since 2013 (2), with the rise in internet shopping being a major challenge (3). We need practical solutions to fill up empty shops. There is already a risk that the opening of the new Westgate shopping centre will hit existing businesses elsewhere in the City. What can be done? Rent free periods for new businesses; low cost long-term lets to social enterprises and charities to maintain diverse shopping streets with services alongside retail outlets; concessions on business rates for sole trader new enterprises; promotion of more cooperatives so that the start-up capital for new businesses is more limited per person; Greens have already suggested a levy on the largest retailers to support smaller ones as a national campaign (4). Around the country, Greens are pushing hard for more attention to be paid to small shops and their needs (5).”
Want more info? Check out these links:
1. See: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jan/02/shops-rising-costs-falling-consumer-spend-closures-retailers
2. See: http://www.ukbusinessforums.co.uk/threads/list-of-costs-for-running-a-retail-store.311615/
3. A potential £320 bn increase over the three year period up to end 2017. See: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/11657830/Online-shopping-to-grow-by-320bn-in-three-years.html
4. A Brighton and Hove Green Party initiative: https://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/2014/05/30/greens-seek-local-power-to-support-small-shops/
5. EXAMPLES: Hackney: https://hackney.greenparty.org.uk/ourcampaigns/local-businesses.html Bath and NE Somerset: https://bath.greenparty.org.uk/our-policies/local-shops.html Camden: https://camden.greenparty.org.uk/news/2009/11/16/high-vacancy-rates-among-small-independent-shops-in-south-camden/ Worcester: https://www.worcestergreenparty.org.uk/worcester-green-party-policies/support-small-business.html Solihull: https://westmidlands.greenparty.org.uk/news.html/2013/12/03/solihull-shoppers-urged-to-shop-small-on-saturday/