Steve Backs Labour's Local Election Pledge(April 16, 2013)
Liverpool Walton MP and former Fazakerley councillor, Steve Rotheram has welcomed the commitment from Labour to give communities new powers to shape their town centres and halt the spread of pay day lenders along their high streets.
Steve explained, "Currently local authorities and communities like here in Liverpool feel increasingly powerless to shape their town centres or do anything to halt the tide of pay day loan firms which alter the character of a high street and can put off people visiting or investing, and damages other businesses already there.
"For instance, if a high street bank closes down, communities are powerless to stop a payday loan moving in because these are classed as the same kind of business.
"Labour’s plan would create an additional umbrella class which allows local councils to decide if they want to place some premises in a separate planning category. This would allow local authorities to refuse planning permission on the grounds that for example opening a pay loan shop would constitute a change of use.
"It would also allow councils to control the spread of other types of outlet where there is local concern such as around the proliferation of betting shops.
"No one needs to tell me that Britain’s high streets are struggling. I have seen it right here in Walton. Across the country hundreds of shops, restaurants and banks that have been open for generations are being forced to close their doors and are often being replaced by the kinds of businesses that do well out of hard times, including payday lenders. For example, last year there were 1,800 closures of shops, including many of the traditional leisure, retail and services our high streets need to thrive. In the same year there was a 20 per cent rise in the number of new pay day lenders opening, as well as a significant rise in the number of pawn brokers and betting shops.
"Labour councillors as well as businesses and community campaigners, have long called for action but Government has too often responded by stripping councils of what powers they have and extending development rights from the top down.
"The time to make amends is now and if David Cameron is unwilling to do it then the next Labour Government will".