Following on from my previous clone town work, I collaborated with Cllr Epps to produce the following recommendations to improve our town centre and district centres at the last Corporate, Community and External Affairs scrutiny panel. It was decided at the meeting to refer this back to the management panel to fine tune these recommendations, but we have definitely got the ball rolling! What do people think?
That the Panel recommend that the Cabinet:-
· Takes steps to ensure its policies actively promote local independent retailers and markets, as an important part of the diversity and retail offer of the Borough, including active promotion through Reading UK CIC.
· Seek opportunities (in conjunction with the voluntary and community sector) for a re-imagined high street project in the Borough, where people help planners create a re-invigorated community in a local centre.
· Make residents an equal partner in Local Development Framework processes, holding sessions where residents are able to speak at Council meetings where decisions on planning policies are made.
· Design well-being, distinctiveness and sustainability indicators into Council site-specific planning processes.
· Ensure resident participation in Business Improvement Districts.
· Write to the Secretary of State for Enterprise to call on him to establish a Local Competition Ombudsman as recommended by the Competition Commission to rein in monopoly power of the big four grocery chains.
CCEA Panel receives reports back within 12 months:-
· On the feasibility of establishing one or more High Street Hubs in key vacant shops to accommodate activities that help develop local economic sustainability: not community centres, but.activities that could range from local currency development (like Brixton £) to local food distribution and tool share/exchange schemes;
· On the potential to create an Empty Dwellings Management Order instrument for the Council to apply to empty builds (not just residential properties) to bring them back into active use for public benefit;
· On progress made for improving our local centres;
· And again evaluates whether to sign up to the Sustainable Communities Act at the appropriate time