Kevin Welcomes PM’s Pledge To Support Our High Streets

Torbay’s Conservative Candidate, Kevin Foster, has welcomed an ambitious package announced by the Prime Minister, backed by hundreds of millions of pounds of investment, to support towns and communities across Britain.

Building on the Government’s Towns Fund, from which Torquay is to receive a Town Deal worth up to £25m, and the Future High Streets Fund, which could see Paignton receive up to £15m to revitalise its Town Centre, the measures are designed to help places which have not always benefited from economic growth in the same way as more prosperous areas.

The package also includes proposals to extend the retail discount from business rates to cinemas and music venues, benefitting many Torbay venues. The promise comes as the first brand new Cinema to be built in Torquay for decades is set to start construction in Union Street.  

The package being announced by the Prime Minister includes measures to:

  • Keep the high street open for business. We will cut business rates for shops, cinemas and pubs. The average corner shop will get a £1,400 cut in their business rates from the extension in the retail discount. Up to half a million businesses will benefit, with the discount extended to all cinemas and music venues.
  • Save pubs and post offices. We will back community groups who want to buy their local pubs and post offices with a £150m fund and a 9 month ban on sale to other bidders.
  • Invest in cycling and walking. We will make it easier for people to cycle and walk around their local areas, improving air quality and public health.

 Kevin Foster, Conservative Candidate For Torbay said:   

“Our Town Centres are the heart of our communities yet changes in shopping habits and the growth of online retail has seen them struggle, especially when businesses are faced with paying a Business Rates Bill. The proposals to increase and extend the retail relief will be welcome news and help boost the efforts to regenerate our Town Centres.”

“This announcement, combined with the Town Deal for Torquay and Paignton’s future High Streets Fund Project, show the choice for Torbay residents on Thursday 12th December. A positive vote for the Conservatives and myself to deliver for our bay, or dither, delay and economic chaos with Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister in a hung parliament by voting for anyone else.”


Notes to Editors

Keeping the high street open for business

  • A Conservative majority Government will extend the retail discount on business rates to 50 per cent next year. For businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000, this will increase the retail discount from 33 per cent to 50 per cent in 2020/21. This would be an effective £280m tax cut which would help small businesses on the High Street in particular.
  • We will extend the retail discount to cinemas and music venuesHundreds of small music venues and cinemas which currently pay business rates will now qualify for the retail discount, helping to cut their costs and making it easier for them to do business. This will cost approximately £5m.
  • We will introduce a new £1,000 business rates relief for pubs. Pubs are at the centre of communities across our country and we are determined to back them by cutting their costs. This new £1,000 rates relief will be an £18 million tax cut for pubs next year and will keep their costs down.


Saving pubs and post offices


  • A Conservative majority Government will beef up the rights of community groups to acquire assets like pubs and post offices. We introduced the Localism Act in 2011 to halt the decline in pubs, village shops, sports grounds and other facilities by allowing them to be nominated as ‘assets of community value’. This gave community groups the ability to pause the sale of an asset of community value for six months if it went on the market. The next Conservative Government will go further, making the process simpler for community groups to engage with and increasing the moratorium period to nine months – giving communities more time to prepare a bid and raise funds.


  • We will provide support to community groups minded to make a bid for an asset. A Conservative majority Government will introduce a £150 million fund which will help groups with the cost of preparing a bid, whether legal, commercial or planning-related, and co-fund some deserving purchases. The fund will be open to all community groups and we expect councils to facilitate bids.


  • We will prevent owners from making agreements to sell to anyone other than a community group before the moratorium is up, as they are permitted to at the moment (though the sale cannot be formally completed until after the moratorium period.) This would be a form of preferred-bidder status for communities, though they could still be outbid at the end of the period if someone else came up with a higher offer.


Investing in cycling and walking


  • A Conservative majority Government will dramatically increase investment in cycling and walking.Encouraging walking and cycling is key to improving public health and improving air quality in our towns and cities. We will create a new £350 million cycling infrastructure fund and tough new design standards which must be followed to receive any money.
  • We will invest in new cycling and walking infrastructure, including joining up cycling with the NHS:


    • We will double bikeability training, so all children across the country can get it.


    • We will create a long-term cycling programme and budget like the roads programme and budget, though of course smaller.


    • We will pilot low-traffic ‘healthy neighbourhoods’ – working with local councils to reduce rat-running cars and lorries, making side streetsnicer to live in and safer to walk, cycle and play in while maintaining the access people need. 


    • We will increase provision for separated bike lanes on main roads, letting thousands exercise safely as part of their normal daily commute and reducing harms from motorised travel. We will also increase and improve pavements to encourage walking.


    • We will pilot incentivising GPs to prescribe bicycles or bike hire to patients in need.


    • We will raise cycling funding elsewhere in the country and make it conditional on adherence to strict new quality standards, similar to the London Cycling Design Standards introduced under Boris Johnson’s mayoralty. Too much cycling infrastructure is substandard, providing little protection from motorised traffic and giving up at the very places where it is most needed.


The next Conservative majority Government will build on this Government’s action to support local communities


  • Our £3.6 billion Towns Fund will help improve local transport links and boost broadband connectivity in 100 towns. The funding will support an initial 100 towns by improving, among other things, their transport and digital infrastructure – driving growth and making them more prosperous. We have provided funding to the local authorities in the shortlisted towns to start preparing bids that best reflect the individual needs and circumstances of their area.


  • We have backed community leaders with £1 billion of funding to help modernise their high streets and town centres. The Prime Minister recently expanded the Future High Streets Fund, confirming that another 50 towns in England will be given a share of £1 billion to redevelop their high streets, taking the total receiving support to 100 places.


  • We have relaxed planning rules to support new homes on our high streets to transform them into community hubs where people work, live and shop. There are currently over 27,000 premises lying vacant in England’s town centres, by enabling even just a fraction of these vacant premises to be turned into homes, we will help thousands more people have a roof over their heads and help ensure our towns remain vibrant places people want to visit.