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‘Future of our Town Centres’ explored in first APPG Economic Development meeting


The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Economic Development has held its first meeting, following on from its launch in March.

The ‘Future of our Town Centres’ event, the first of three APPG sessions on this topic, explored what can be done to improve high streets’ future sustainability and success. Presentations were made by Matthew Colledge, former leader of Conservative Trafford Council, Vice-Chairman of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and key figure in Manchester’s ‘City Deal’ who was instrumental in the turnaround of Altrincham town centre; and Professor Cathy Parker, Co-Chair of the Institute of Place Management and Professor of Marketing and Retail Enterprise at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Nigel Wilcock, Executive Director of the Institute of Economic Development (IED), which led the APPG formation and acts as the group’s Secretariat, said: “High streets up and down the country are under attack. From the rise of online shopping driving the decline of footfall, to the mounting pressures of business rates, tax and the Living Wage, Britain’s retailers are struggling to turn a profit and the future for high streets is uncertain. The objective of the APPG here is to share the practical learning and good practice examples from all meetings to inform and improve both policy-making and action.”

Following the meeting, the APPG and the IED were delighted to hear the Government’s announcement of the second phase of the Future High Streets Fund which is designed to ‘transform’ high streets across the county. The successful towns – from Whitehaven in Cumbria to Penzance in Cornwall – will receive up to £150,000 of the £675 million fund to help boost town centres. “Those local authorities which will benefit from this funding may wish to look at the examples presented to the APPG, including Altrincham’s, and the lessons learned from their journeys to success,” Nigel said.

A full report of the APPG for Economic Development’s first meeting can be viewed here. The next meeting on 11th September 2019 will continue to explore the ‘Future of our Town Centres’, with speakers Graham Wilson OBE, CEO of the National Association of British Markets, and Ben Houchen, Mayor of the Tees Valley Combined Authority.

The non-partisan APPG brings together senior parliamentarians, policy-makers and economic development practitioners and will consider a number of important issues such as town centre regeneration, rural economic development, job creation, productivity, digital adoption, business rates and ensuring areas receive their fair share of funding from government. Officers of the APPG are: Andrea Jenkyns MP (Chair); Jack Brereton MP (Vice Chair); Dr Rupa Huq MP (Vice Chair); Jack Lopresti MP (Vice Chair); and Martin Vickers MP (Vice Chair).


Nigel Wilcock is available for interview via Phil Smith, Institute of Economic Development PR consultant, 01778 218180 / 07866 436159 / phil@philsmithcommunications.co.uk.

Notes to editors:

The Institute of Economic Development (IED) is the UK’s leading independent professional body representing economic development and regeneration practitioners. Established over 30 years ago, the IED’s key objective is to represent the interests of economic development practitioners and ensure their views are widely expressed and noted. The IED is committed to demonstrating the value of economic development work for local and regional communities; the pursuit of best practice in economic development and the attainment of the highest standards of professional conduct and competence.