UK High Street giants Boots, Marks & Spencer, Santander and the Co-op are behind a scheme that will attempt to create 3000 new jobs, increase town centre shopping by 10% and reduce empty shop units by a fifth.
The firms have formed a new charity – Business in the Community (BITC) – that has launched a ‘Healthy High Streets’ campaign, with their initial focus on towns that demonstrate a need for help – but have also shown potential for growth.
As one of the 29 towns chosen Elgin will receive a support package tailored to the needs of the high street.
BITC’s enterprise director is Jane Pritchard. She said: “We are looking forward to getting down to the real work of the campaign and demonstrating how, with corporate support, we can revitalise Britain’s high streets.”
Laura Cruickshank, the operations manager at Moray Chamber of Commerce, was one of the first to welcome the new scheme: “It is fantastic to hear that Elgin is to receive assistance from BITC as part of the Health High Streets initiative.
“Any help which is set to increase footfall, employment levels and reduce empty shop units is warmly received and will no doubt compliment the ongoing efforts of Elgin BID.
“We look forward to seeing the positive outcomes of Healthy High Streets over the next three years – and shall of course lend our continued support to any initiatives aimed at helping the Moray economy to grow.”
Healthy High Streets will seek to improve town centres by enabling access to landlords to address empty and unsightly property issues. It will prioritise accessibility and safety issues and also create and enable high-profile events that drive footfall.
Improvements to customer service and the creation of ‘pop-up shops’ and markets will also by supported by the scheme.