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Bars and restaurants set to ‘save the high street’

Published:  08 October, 2018

The bar and restaurant scene has been predicted as key in preventing the decline of the high street, with 92% of councils believing night-time economy will play an “important role”, according to new research.

In a survey to senior official and politician decision-makers within English local authorities, three quarters (74%) of councils said they saw developing their night time economy as a key priority or important, yet only 1 in 5 (22%) councils have a dedicated night-time economy strategy, according to the study by the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) and Portman Group.

This, said the survey, strengthened the argument for a national level policy for the night-time economy, with three quarters of councils saying they would welcome a system to help them share best practice across the country.

With customers spending more time and money online, a varied night-time economy could prove a life-belt to the beleaguered high street, said LGiU chief executive Jonathan Carr West.

“Encouraging activities and venues that appeal to a wide range of people is, rightly, important to local councillors. A national strategy would help councils get the best out of the night-time economy, to the benefit of everyone in the community,” he said.

Nearly 79% of councils said partnership working was essential in supporting a vibrant night-time economy, with local businesses (95%) and the police (93%) named as key partners by almost all councils in the survey.

CEO of the Portman Group, John Timothy, said: “Partnership working is crucial at a time when we know our high streets are changing, with online retailers challenging traditional operators and more shops standing empty. We need to further develop these models of partnership working to deliver vibrant night time environments that can help revive and retain our much-loved high streets and town centres as well as boosting the local economy.”

Released today, the survey was sent to key decision makers within English local government including council leaders, chief executives, service directors and cabinet members, with 111 responses received covering all English regions and 91 councils.