Ministers today reveal the first towns to benefit from a £1 billion fund to help improve Britain’s high streets.
Each of the 14 town centres announced will receive up to £25 million worth of training, face-to-face support and access to research to give small business owners an edge.
The High Streets Task Force was announced by the Government in response to recommendations of an expert panel on the high street chaired by Sir John Timpson.
The assistance will be piloted first in 20 town centres before being rolled out in 101 areas across the country.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “The Task Force will provide the tools they need to get the best advice possible and a dashboard of key local data.”
But Labour ’s Lisa Nandy said: “A decade of Tory cuts has blighted our high streets with empty shops and payday lenders.
“They have no plan to give us back the well-paid jobs we need to revive our high streets.
“After ten years of failure, nobody will believe more of their empty promises.”
She added: “It’s up to our high street heroes to shop locally and save our town centres.”
The Mirror’s High Street Fightback campaign has 10 demands, including a new tax on online sales and action on business rates, parking charges and public transport.
Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry, who has previously praised the Mirror’s campaign said the new funding would give “communities the money and support they need to unleash the potential of their towns.”
He added: “Every place has its own unique strengths and challenges but all our town centres and high streets have one thing in common – they are the lifeblood of communities.”
Ministers will also launch a consultation on whether to build an online register of commercial properties, which could make it easier to bring empty shops back into use.
The Government has also pledged to cut small retailers’ business rates bills by 50% from April.
Ed Davey, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats , said: “Where have the Conservatives been as High Streets across our country have been in rapid decline for several years now?
“Where is the Tory Government’s apology for their failure to act before now, despite countless warnings of the toxic impact of the rapid rise of internet shopping, huge cuts to funding for local councils and the out-of-date unfair business rates system?
“The Government’s £1bn ‘task force’ will be as effective as a chocolate teapot in fighting the impact of internet shopping, council cuts and unfair business rates.
“Liberal Democrats want to see councils funded properly and local economies fully backed by ending the tax advantages of the big online companies that are killing our high streets.”
The first 14 towns to take part in the pilot schemes and receive funding from the Government will be:
Swinton Town centre – Salford
Thornton Heath – Croydon
Cheadle – Staffordshire Moorlands
Aldershot Town Centre – Rushmoor
Stirchley – Birmingham
Accrington Town Centre – Hyndburn
Kendal – South Lakeland
Friargate – Preston
Coventry City Centre – Coventry
Hartlepool Town Centre – Hartlepool
Ellesmere Port Town Centre – Cheshire West and Chester
West Bromwich Town Centre – Sandwell
Huyton Town Centre – Knowsley
Withington District Centre – Manchester