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Support needed for Medway's Town Centres

April 13, 2019 6:30 AM
Gillingham High StreetMedway Liberal Democrats recognise that residents need places where you can shop, use local services and meet your friends, family and neighbours. There are numerous challenges to our established retailers from the internet. Speaking to local residents, increases in parking charges and hours of operation are also acting as deterrents to visiting local town centres, pushing shoppers to other centres.
We feel the council could do more by giving start-up businesses rates relief to help them through their first year of trading and speeding up planning decisions on derelict buildings. Medway Council is investing £45 million into a long-term buy-back of the Pentagon shopping centre. Doing so will improve the council's chances of regenerating Chatham High Street.
However, we are concerned that the council is paying too much for the centre and disappointed that Chatham is seeing more investment while our other town centres are being left behind. In other local shopping areas, we need to do more to improve the look and feel of the street, and provide more short-term parking, especially for people buying heavy or bulky goods.
John Castle, Liberal Democrat Candidate for River Ward states - "all of Medway's town centres are a critical source of local services, shopping and employment. Medway Council should be giving them as much support as possible, by working with businesses to keep them trading and encouraging companies to invest in the High Street".

Liberal Democrats are calling for a reform to the business rates system with a land value tax instead of the current rates system which currently isn't working. A Liberal Democrat-controlled Council would deliver a strategy to rejuvenate the town centres and the wider area with the right action to support businesses, as pioneering Liberal Democrat councils are currently demonstrating in other areas.

Liberal Democrats are calling on Medway Council to commit resources to improve all of Medway's town centres to support jobs, local public services and reinforce the sense of local community offered by our high streets.