CALLS for fairer business rates to support the high street and promote independent shops were among the issues raised by campaigners from the Labour Party when they took to Redditch town centre on Saturday.
The action was part of a nationwide initiative to highlight the plights of high streets up and down the country following the closure of hundreds of shops over the past year.
“In the past nine months alone about a dozen shops have closed in Redditch and it’s a story that’s be repeated across the land,” said Councillor Bill Hartnett, the party’s group leader on Redditch Borough Council.
The campaign also calls for free bus travel for the under 25s, more police officers on the beat to keep high streets safe and the establishment of regional development banks to support new businesses.
“We are also calling a ban on bank cashpoint machine charges – in Stoke on Trent for example you can be charged 95p per transaction, and to put a stop to post office and bank closures,” said Coun Hartnett.
“We have to save the high street as it’s the lifeblood of our towns. Here in Redditch we had M&S close down last year – the MP tried to intervene but they have closed down other stores too in other parts of the country.
“Here on Church Green you just need to look at the empty shops – something has to be done.”