High street staff ‘should engage with local people’

Simon Donohue

The head of a taskforce tackling problems on the high street says that the solution lies in encouraging staff to engage with the communities they serve.

Martyn Hulme, Manchester-based managing director of the Co-operative Estates, recently led his first meeting as chairman of the Business in the Community High Streets Taskforce.

The taskforce was established in September 2011 and includes representatives from The Co-operative Group, Wilkinsons, Marks & Spencer and the Post Office.

It focuses on how the practical involvement of business on local high streets can create lasting change through initiatives such as the High Street Champions scheme launched earlier this year.

Hulme, who has taken over from Alex Gourlay, chief executive of Health & Beauty at Boots, said: "Our towns and cities face complex structural problems which are not going to be solved easily, and businesses cannot tackle these challenges in isolation.

"Co-ordination and, naturally, co-operation is required between businesses – big and small – as well as local authorities and the communities we serve.

"I believe many national organisations have a wealth of expertise and knowledge at a local level and how we tap into this underused resource will be the primary focus of my role.

"Our High Street Champions initiative – introduced by Business in the Community earlier this year – brings together businesses to adopt a handful of areas and works with local people to deliver positive change in their towns, and this is where we can make a real difference at ground level.

"Our Champions ensure that the local community is consulted about the future shape of their town environment and find innovative solutions to encourage business growth and increased footfall into the town centre."

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