Readers' letters - June 9
Fond BHS memories
For any town or city to lose another big retail store such as BHS is a big blow. Generations have fond memories of shopping at BHS.
Online shopping and retail parks have played a big part in the decline of town centres.
Soaring rents and unrealistic business rates liabilities have also added to the increasing number of failed businesses and vacant retail units found in a lot of town centres throughout Britain. Town centres set the first impressions of an area.
Vacant department stores, temporary ‘pop-up’ shops or increased numbers of charity shops have a negative impact on positive regeneration.
A lot of people are quick to wrongly assume it’s their local council who set the business rate valuations. The rateable valuations are in fact set by the V.O.A (Valuation Office Agency). Local councils are duty bound to simply collect the rates on behalf of central Government.
Business rates are simply too high and unrealistic in today’s high street trading conditions.
A lot has changed in the High Street since the start of the economic downturn of 2007 when Northern Rock hit the buffers and crashed.
Surely it’s a better solution for the Government to support retail chains, small and medium-sized businesses, with a further reduction in business rates liabilities. Keeping the wheels of local economies turning makes good sense. Keeping the big chains profitable will also help to reduce the state welfare bill.
Local authorities should be granted greater power or discretion to adjust the business rates in their areas to encourage private and corporate investment.
I support several Labour MPs on their attack on Sir Phillip Green over the collapse of BHS which has resulted in the loss of 11,000 jobs and a pension blackhole of £571m.
Does this tycoon have a case to answer? Did he know BHS was about to hit an ‘iceberg’? It clearly was a sinking ship, and he seemed to demonstrate wealth extraction to an abhorrent level. Did he and his boardroom show any respect or personal regard to the thousands of loyal employees who were about to lose their jobs and long-term pensions when he sold BHS for £1 last year?
Philip Green thought nothing of jumping ship and ordering himself a brand new ostentatious £100m yacht. This kind of capitalism is, in my view, wholly immoral.
Helping to cut young deaths
Every week in the UK, 12 young people (aged 14 to 35) die suddenly from undiagnosed heart conditions. I know from a personal perspective the pain and devastation this can cause, following the tragic death of Matt, one of my former dance teachers, and Adam, a good friend of my sister. Both were so young and vibrant.
Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) is a charity dedicated to helping reduce this shocking number of deaths through greater awareness, research and its screening programme – which has now tested over 100,000 young people!
I am honoured to be a patron of CRY and to do whatever I can to help raise awareness of the work it does. I’m lending my support to CRY’s flagship event on Sunday June 26. Now in its 10th year, the Heart of London Bridges Walk has raised well over £500,000.
Walkers will cross some of the capital’s best-known bridges and pass at least 12 of London’s most iconic landmarks – representing these 12 tragic deaths each week. To find out more, log onto www.c-r-y.org.uk/events/events/heart-of-london-bridges-walk-2016 or call 01737 363 222.
CRY Patron, singer and actress