UK Sustainable Communities action
The UK Parliment is about to do a grand thing in terms of making the UK once again "a nation of shopkeepers". That is shopkeepers in the traditional sense, with the shops in a town's center actually being owned and operated by townspeople independent of any franchise. That means if you spend money in the shops, it will be recycled into other community shops instead of some substantial percentage going off to the main headquarters and a bunch of non-local investors interested only in a maximum return on their investments. Yes, local shopkeepers are investors, too, expecting a maximum return, but they aren't just thinking about money. Their rewards come in a lot of other forms that matter much more when it's your shop and your neighbors are the customers. Without that franchise looking over your shoulder, you can customize your shop to local demand, work the hours of your employees around local activity hours, and so on and so on.
The fly in the ointment, of course, is how do you encourage this? How do you give locals the power to turn away the chains without pouring all the money for your program into lawyers? Some of the possibilities are to lower business rates (business tax rates on property and profits) to locals. I guess I'm a radical, but I'd like to do something about the warehousing of buildings, leaving them unoccupied in the center of town (Norwich has a lot of these, unfortunately). Make them business incubators, rentable by the month at reduced rates for those starting out. Sell them off if they remain vacant for a certain period of town. Or, here's a really radical thought, legalize mini-business squatting or homesteading in such buildings.
The good thing is that all parties seem to be in agreement that something is to be done. What will be ironed out in the committees and whether it has any chance of actually being effective is yet to be known.