A £20m fund to bring disused shops back into use and regenerate London’s local high streets has been announced by Conservative mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith.
The money would sit alongside the appointment of a ‘Retail Tsar’ to champion the work of independent retailers. Creation of the role has been backed by more than 28,000 people who signed a change.org petition.
In addition, Mr Goldsmith has pledged to spend £2m on supporting free parking in high streets in a bid to boost local shops.
While the cash will be popular with many motorists in Tory-supporting outer boroughs, it’s unlikely to be well received by green-minded voters who would like to see fewer cars on the capital’s roads.
The Tory campaign say the pledges can be funded by existing underspends identified by City Hall’s top civil servant in a briefing paper sent to all mayoral candidates.
Mr Goldsmith commented: “London depends on the success of our local high streets and independent shops – they are the heart of our communities and the building blocks of the economy.’
“My Action Plan for Greater London will deliver for our high streets a with new £20m fund to secure Greater London’s economy. And I’ll deliver it while protecting family finances and freezing mayoral council tax.
“A four year Corbyn-Khan experiment with London’s future would put all of this at risk and Londoners would pay the price.”
Speaking after Mr Goldsmith’s announcement Sue Terpilowwski, London Policy Chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The FSB welcomes the drive by Mayoral candidates to address the issue of parking.
“Over half (51%) of FSB London members say that parking costs have a significant impact on the success of their businesses.
“The value of local High Streets to local communities must be recognised and Councils should alter parking policies to entice customers from simply going to their out of town shopping centres, where parking is often free.”
Londoners will elect a new Mayor and the 25 members of the London Assembly on May 5th. Candidates for Mayor include Conservative Zac Goldsmith, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon, the Green party’s Sian Berry and UKIP’s Peter Whittle.