Report identifies how councils across the UK can support local retailers

15 July 2020, 09:00 AM
  • The Chiswick Shops Task Force’s report looks into the threat to the district’s independent businesses and offers recommendations for national government, local councils, landlords and residents that will be shared nationally
Report identifies how councils across the UK can support local retailers

A report highlighting the threats faced by local independent retailers in Chiswick has identified potential policy solutions that councillors say could be used to boost local businesses right across the UK.

The Chiswick Shops Task Force, set up by local councillors in the London suburb of Chiswick, which is known for its independent shops, cafés, pubs and restaurants, spent 18 months listening to local traders to better understand what affects their businesses for better and worse.

The report, Ensuring a thriving retail economy in Chiswick, identified a number of key problems facing traders today, including a “thoughtless” imposition of top-down policies, a failure to listen to traders leading to a poor relationship with Hounslow council, an absence of effective policies that encourage walking and cycling, a lack of parking near shops and a fundamental misunderstanding about how the retail sector works.

There were also the obvious issues of soaring rents and business rates, to which the councillors suggested changing the culture around rents and leases to retain successful businesses and scrapping business rates altogether in favour of a fairer system.

To improve the environment for local businesses further, councillors suggested changes to policies for street furniture, recycling and waste collections, lighting and policing, in order to maintain and improve the local environment. The report also stressed the importance of councils adopting a listening culture with local retailers.

The report was originally due to be published in March but was delayed due to Covid-19.

Lead author of the report and Leader of the Conservative group on Hounslow Council Cllr Joanna Biddolph (Turnham Green), says: “Covid-19 has highlighted just how fragile much of our retail and hospitality sector is. I’m so grateful to the Chancellor for all his support measures, but now we need long-term changes in policy and practice to put our traders on a surer footing so they can see and plan for a successful future.

“Some of our proposals may be controversial and not everyone will agree with all of them but we are committed to discussing these ideas – and others that people in the community want to share – at a public meeting as soon as we are able to hold one.”

Cllr Patrick Barr (Chiswick Homefields) adds that the council intends to share the report with ministers and policy makers nationally. “While we have focused on Chiswick’s unique environment, there is much that we have learned that can be shared for the greater good of retail.”

How could the Chiswick Shops Task Force’s findings be incorporated into your area? Get in touch by emailing

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