Dozens of newsrooms join forces to help local high streets have a merry Christmas

Johnston Press’ titles have come together to launch a campaign in the run-up to Christmas to support their local high streets.

The Love Your High Street campaign has already won the backing of the Federation of Small Businesses, and is celebrating an early win from last week’s Budget announcement about business rate tax relief for small traders.

Titles taking part in the campaign share a common logo, and can access a range of features that have been written detailing the issues faced by High Street traders, Op Ed pieces and a schedule of ideas to support the campaign.

Among its aims are:

  • Highlight the vibrant variety of shops and small businesses in our communities and encourage readers to spend more time and money in their high streets;
  • Drive home the message to the Treasury and our local MPs that outdated business rates need urgent reform to lessen the burden on independent traders;
  • Call for positive action on parking charges and spaces to encourage people to visit our high streets;

In Yorkshire, the Card Factory, whose base is in Wakefield, has backed the campaign by announcing a sponsorship deal.

Mark Waldron, Editorial Director for Hampshire, who has co-ordinated the campaign, said:

“For Johnston Press, the Love Your High Street campaign has seen a concerted effort from editorial and commercial teams across the company to present a united voice to more than four million readers of our websites and newspapers.

“Our traditional high streets are changing and many small retailers are fighting hard to stay in business. There is no quick fix and we need to re-imagine what our local shopping centres will look like in the future. But for now we can all play a part in spreading a little love in our high streets.

“We are encouraging readers to make a conscious decision to spend some time and money with the local shops, small businesses and independent traders which ensure our communities remain vibrant places to live.

“And we want direct action from central and local government to review business rates and ensure adequate provision of car parking and banking services.”

Many titles have led their front pages with details of the campaign, and have had positive feedback from readers and traders. They continue to add local ideas and stories as the campaign runs.

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: ‘It’s great to see this campaign adding to the call for action to help our high streets.

‘With confidence among small retailers falling, this is a crucial time to ramp up pressure for urgent reform of outdated business rates and simplifying the way bills can be appealed, as well as improving local roads and increasing the amount of free parking.

“Government and local authorities must come together now to find real solutions to these issues.’

Karen Hubbard, CEO of Card Factory, said: “Card Factory is delighted to be the key partner in Yorkshire for Johnston Press’ ‘Love Your High Street’ campaign, an initiative which aims to promote the value of the high street across the region.

‘It is pleasing that it has generated such widespread support and attention. As proud members of the high street, we hope the campaign persuades people to protect and enhance the future of these important cultural and commercial hubs.

‘As part of the campaign, Card Factory will be running a Christmas card design competition, open to all ages but aimed at schools. We will print the winner’s card for them to send to friends and family.’

Jo Miller, president of Solace, which represents council chief executives across the UK, said: ‘I’m delighted JP are running a buy local campaign , supporting our high streets. As public service leaders in our places we know how vital SMEs and that “town” has to reinvent itself to be more experiential. The best of us are getting stuck in with others to make that happen.’

Jeremy Clifford, Editor-in-Chief of Johnston Press, said: “When our titles come together around a meaningful campaign, the collective power we can bring is inspiring.

“It reaffirms why we have a local press, to support, campaign and fight for our readers and advertisers.

“This campaign won’t solve the problems our high street face — that needs more imagination from our town centre leaders. But if it helps to get our readers to think about how they shop in the run-up to Christmas, then we have done our part in trying to help local traders.