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Bars, restaurants and clubs could ‘prevent high street decline’

Some 91% councils in England believe the night time economy will play an important role in “preventing the decline of high street retail”, a survey by Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) and the Portman Group has found.

The survey ran for a month between 17 July and 15 August 2018 and found that 74% of decision-makers in local English government saw the development of the night time economy as “a key priority” or “important”.

The report, titled ‘Local partnership working for a vibrant night time economy’ said night time trade was “becoming a central part of the future of the UK high street” as bars, restaurants and clubs took over retail premises and offered new options for evening entertainment.

Other findings of the survey included 88% claiming to treat their area’s night time economy as a way of supporting local businesses and job creation while 74% saw it as a way of attracting new people to the area. Just 22% of councils said they had a dedicated night time economy strategy. Some 75% of councils said they would welcome national level policy to facilitate the sharing of best practice and information.

On the other hand, antisocial behaviour and crime was cited as a concern with regards to the night time economy, as 72% of councils placed it in their top three challenges.

Jonathan Carr-West chief executive of LGiU, said: Across the country, councils are pioneering ambitious night time economy strategies that work for their local community, bringing jobs, leisure and tourism. It is a testament to the foresight and vision of those people leading local authorities that the night time economy has been embraced as an untapped opportunity rather than simply a challenge to be managed.

“Our research demonstrates that councils have a sophisticated understanding of their local context and are already delivering on bold strategies based on local priorities for the future. The high street is undergoing a period of rapid evolution and councils are well positioned to steer this change in a locally sensitive and positive way.”

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