By Mike Ribbeck, Business Editor / email@example.com
A campaign aimed at helping the ailing high street is being launched in Bristol by the city council.
As reported in the Evening Post around a fifth of shops in Bristol are currently standing empty as the recession continues to bite.
Even though the £500 million Cabot Circus has been a massive success, with 97 per cent of stores let out, other parts of the city have continued to struggle.
Suburbs and parts of the city centre including the Galleries have been badly hit, with some smaller shops going out of business.
Many of the smaller independents have struggled to survive and even large chains such as Focus and Habitat have been affected.
Liberal Democrats on the council are already considering a campaign which will make it harder for the supermarkets to open in Bristol.
In a motion to be debated at full council, Councillor Neil Harrison is claiming that residents should have more of a say on plans for big stores because of concerns they damage smaller traders.
Bristol is believed to have more Tesco shops than any other regional city in the country and the new shop in Cheltenham Road resulted in major disturbances.
Council leader Barbara Janke is launching the new campaign to promote Bristol’s independent retailers.
She will be joined by traders and members of Bristol’s Food Network to raise a special campaign flag on Corn Street proclaiming ‘Bristol Independents – keep our high streets alive’.
The campaign will get under way on Saturday with a day of activities at the start of British Food Fortnight.
A pilot project featuring eight of Bristol’s local shopping areas will see recipe postcards printed with ingredients that can be purchased from local shops in each area.
The areas featured include Gloucester Road; Stapleton Road; Stokes Croft/Picton Street, Montpelier; North Street, Bedminster/Southville; Whiteladies Road; Henleaze, Bishopsworth and St Nicholas Market.
Mrs Janke said: “Revitalising Britain’s high streets is rightly on the local and national agenda. In Bristol we have some vibrant high streets but it’s important that we do all we can to support our independent traders across the city who play a crucial role in our local economy.
“The city council has resolved to continue its support for diversity on our high streets. I welcome this initiative and encourage everyone in Bristol to try something local from somewhere local on Bristol Independents Day to launch the campaign.”
John Hirst, from Destination Bristol, said: “Bristol’s independent retailers add great value to the overall shopping offer and are one of the key ingredients that make this city such a special shopping destination.”
Abdul Malik, from Pak Butchers in Stapleton Road, runs a chain of Halal stores and was honoured in these year’s Evening Post Business Awards.
He said: “I feel this campaign will strengthen the spirit of those individual entrepreneurs, like myself, who believe in thriving local businesses for local people.
“The initiative will also give customers a chance to express their commitment to their local businesses and help build a momentum to strengthen local commitment to strengthening sustainable local enterprise.”
Jess Brokenshire of Sourdough Cafe at St Nicholas Market said: “Independents Day sounds like a really good idea. Bristol and St Nicholas Market has a fantastic selection of independent traders and we look forward to shoppers and visitors supporting their local traders on the day.”