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Chatham Debenhams closure - Liberal Democrats demand reform to protect High Street retailers

January 14, 2020 9:22 PM
By Medway Liberal Democrats - Alan Wells
DEBENHAMS CHATHAM HIGH STREETMedway sees the closure of Debenhams Chatham store this month, its loss having a huge impact on the look of the town centre.
Nationally, Liberal Democrats are demanding reform to protect High Street retailers. Responding to news that Beales Department Store may have to call in administrators, Sarah Olney MP, Liberal Democrat Business Spokesperson, said: "We've seen Mothercare close its last branches, Debenhams shutting more outlets and now Beales announcing that they are at risk of collapse. Every closure will see people around the country face the bleak prospect of losing their jobs and livelihoods.

"The internet age means shopping is changing. But that doesn't mean we should accept seeing our High Streets hollowed out. Too many online stores rake in profit but pay little or no tax, while High Street shops are saddled with costly business rates and exorbitant rents.

"The Government must urgently look at radical reform, or consider scrapping business rates completely. This system is not fit for purpose in 2020. With more uncertainty ahead thanks to the shadow cast by the Johnson's Brexit agenda, Ministers must do everything possible to ensure retailers across the UK have a chance to stay in business.

"What's more, we must find ways to tax companies operating online more effectively, to ensure a level playing field for retailers."
Liberal Democrats would deliver a strategy to rejuvenate 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 committed to building an inclusive economy in Medway that benefits all residents

ENDS

QUOTE: John Castle spokesperson for Medway Liberal Democrats said - "Debenhams was the centerpiece of the High Street and its closure will be a real blow for town centre. Debenhams has been a great addition to the High Street and it is sad to see it close - particularly for the staff.
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. 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".