Jessica meets businesses on Old Christchurch Road
On Friday 29th September, Jessica spent the afternoon with businesses along the Old Christchurch Road in Bournemouth Town Centre to hear about the issues affecting them.
Many were concerned about rising bills and slowing custom. One business explained they are paying £3000 a month each for rent, rates and energy bills - all up from the previous year. They are only just surviving because they can also sell through delivery apps.
Another business explained they had only made 60% of the takings they had last summer and were now worried about going into the winter.
The number of empty shops on the high street remains a concern for retailers and hospitality businesses. One business owner explained how this affected his business. With fewer shops, including those of his direct competitors, there are fewer customers to come to his shop.
Safety in the town centre was raised by almost all of the businesses, echoing the message from businesses who attended Jessica's roundtable on the 14th September. Businesses want customers and their staff to feel safe when they come to work. They need to know the police will be there to respond to any incidents.
Finally, many also raised the lack of investment in and care for the public realm. Businesses want to feel like the council is on their side and making sure that the streets are kept clean and are activated to encourage people to spend time in town.
It was so clear that all the businesses cared deeply about Bournemouth and wanted to see it become the thriving town centre they all know it can be
Jessica is grateful to everyone who took the time to talk with her and share their views.
Labour has a plan to get the high streets going again - including by reforming businesses rates and giving council's the power to compel landlords to fill empty shops.