Nick Clegg on reviving high streets

THE national leader of the Liberal Democrat party chatted with shopkeepers in one of the borough s busiest roads as he launched a plan to revitalise high streets across the country, writes Andy McCorkell. Nick Clegg chose Kilburn High Road, to launch a pr

THE national leader of the Liberal Democrat party chatted with shopkeepers in one of the borough's busiest roads as he launched a plan to revitalise high streets across the country, writes Andy McCorkell.

Nick Clegg chose Kilburn High Road, to launch a proposal to develop business rates and put planning guidance plans to the sword when large retailers look to move into an area.

Mr Clegg was persuaded to visit Kilburn's shopkeepers last Friday by Ed Fordham, the Lib Dem Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Hampstead and Kilburn Parliamentary constituency, after the party spotted a story in the Times about Mr Fordham's plan to clean up the high road.

He said the national campaign would bring life back to our high streets.


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Mr Clegg said: "It's not just here in Kilburn, it's not just in Brent and Camden, but it's up and down the country. I hear the same thing over and over again from shopkeepers of small shops that they are feeling squeezed by business rates, they are feeling penalised by planning law, they feel they are not getting the support from local and central government.

"We have got a plan to devolve business rates and to make the relief for business rates for small shops automatic. To change planning guidance so that there is a local test, so that when big retailers make a planning application, that the impact on local shops and retailers is taken into account much more.

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"Shopkeepers here want Camden Council and Brent Council to work together. The boundary down the middle of the road is an artificial one as far as shop keepers are concerned."

After talking to high road shopkeepers such as Quality Photos and the Kilburn Bookshop, Mr Clegg spoke to the Times about the main issue that everyone is talking about... MPs' expenses.

He said: "Of course not. MPs that break the rules and find themselves in court should face the consequences and the courts of law should make up their own minds. But we need to go much, much further than either David Cameron or Gordon brown are prepared to. All they want to do is talk tough but not really do very much in practice.

"Let me give you an example. We tabled a proposal to give people the right to sack their MPs if they are shown to be corrupt. Labour and the Conservatives blocked it. There's no point in David Cameron and Gordon Brown talking of the reform of expenses if they won't do it.

"They both want to defend the clapped out ways of Westminster because, of course, it serves the two big parties and that's why we need a change, and that's why we need more Liberal Democrat MPs.

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