Welsh Lib Dems unveil plans to save local high streets

Cllr Jo Watkins is calling for more support for local businesses.

By Callum James Littlemore, Mar 22, 2021 1:03

Bookshelf in a bookshop.

Cllr Jo Watkins, Welsh Liberal Democrat Senedd candidate for Monmouth and South Wales East, has called for urgent action to save local high street businesses which are struggling to due the pandemic. 

Just yesterday Fratelli’s in Caldicot, a beloved family owned restaurant, announced they were having to close their doors whilst they look for new premises.

The owners announced on social media that the decision was prompted by the pandemic, which has put a massive strain on the hospitality sector across Wales and put the future of many local businesses in jeopardy.

In response, the Welsh Liberal Democrats are promoting their policy of scrapping business rates and calling for a new £500m ‘Towns Fund’, which will invest in the future of high streets in towns across South Wales East.

Commenting on the proposals Cllr Jo Watkins said:

“I was devastated to wake up to the announcement that Fratelli’s was closing. Anyone who lives in or near Caldicot will, like me, know how amazing their food is and the vibrancy they bring to our town.

“Sadly, their decision to close is not an isolated case. Right across Wales small and family owned businesses are shutting up shop or having to drastically downsize due to the pandemic hurting their footfall and driving more people to shop online.

“These businesses are the lifeblood of our communities and each closure hurts our local high streets. Even before the pandemic things were tough, with nearly 1 million businesses closing between 2017-19 across the UK.

“We must do more to support these vital businesses and revive our towns. That is why the Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling for the scrappage of business rates and a new £500m towns fund to invest in our high streets and support local businesses.

“These measures will help rebalance the unfair situation that sees physical businesses penalised through extra taxes while online retailers get away scot-free. It will also give much needed support to small local retailers, who form the nucleus of our communities here in South Wales East.

“We must take drastic action to support people and Put Recovery First. That is the positive future that the Welsh Liberal Democrats are fighting for.”

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