Hyndburn Council Leader, Cllr Miles Parkinson, today spoke about plans for Hyndburn’s high streets after Jake Berry MP, the Minister for the High Streets, announced that free parking is important to the health of the high street.

Cllr Parkinson said; “Improving the health of our high streets is already a priority for us and we’re investing heavily to improve the high street offer, as the growth of online shopping has changed the way we all use high streets now.

We offer free parking to attract visitors which costs the Council £90,000 each year. However the business rates continue to financially cripple high street retailers but it is a tax that online retailers can avoid. The whole system of business rates doesn’t feel fit for purpose and I’m writing to the Minister to seek his support to reform the system, to create a level playing field between high street and online retail taxation.

We’ve also made a huge investment in keeping our high streets clean and tidy, no one wants to see litter or dog mess around our towns and we’ve already ditched the old bags and boxes and rolled out new wheeled bins for recycling, which will lead to cleaner streets as there will be no more wind-blown litter from the bags and boxes.

We now plan to build on this and take environmental enforcement to the next level with a big clampdown on people who let their dogs foul and don’t pick up and those who drop litter, cigarettes or chewing gum on the floor. We’ve appointed a private company to carry out enforcement work on behalf of the Council through visible enforcement patrol teams. They will have the authority to issue on-the-spot Fixed Penalty Notices, (FPNs) to anyone they catch failing to clean up after their dog, or littering.

We’ve also invested in new specialist machinery to clean our high streets and remove chewing gum from pavements.

Work in Accrington’s new Town Square, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is progressing well, ready for the square’s official opening in November.

Even though it’s not quite finished yet, the work has already transformed the area allowing the magnificent listed buildings to, once again, take centre stage and create a beautiful civic space. We recognise that events are important to attract people into the town centre and when the work is finished, the square will be cleaned ready to host a range of activities and events over the coming months to attract visitors into the town.

More good news is that the Heritage Lottery Fund has agreed to increase the grant rate we can offer to shops in the project area in Accrington Town Centre to 90%. The Council’s Townscape Heritage Officer is in contact with those shops eligible to apply for a grant and we hope shop owners will take full advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity and that we will see improvements take place.