Oliver has called on people to support their local high streets and shop locally.
Joined by local parish councillors Viv Charrett and Estelle Samuelson, Mr Dowden dropped into shops in Radlett to speak with owners and promote independent small businesses.
Speaking afterwards Mr Dowden said: ‘It was a real pleasure as always to be in Radlett on Friday, talking with shop owners and listening to their concerns about the challenges they’re facing. I also picked some lovely flowers from Jennylou Florists for Mrs Dowden, and encourage everyone to shop locally.
‘Local high streets like Radlett are at the heart of our community. I have lived in the area and have seen Radlett’s high street change significantly over the years, with many smaller independent traders disappearing.
‘As high streets cope with increased competition from online retailers and changing shopping habits it is so important people continue to use the valuable unique services shops provide.
‘The Government also have to make sure we level the playing field with online companies, which is why I am pleased we have delivered a range of measures to boost high streets, including business rates cuts and a £675 million redevelopment fund. This is something I have pushed for constantly with my ministerial colleagues, and will continue to do so.
The Future High Streets Fund is one element of a wider package of Government measures to support high streets announced last year. These include:
- Cutting business rates by a third for small companies for two-years from April 2019;
- Reforming planning, including consulting on the ‘change of use’ regime, a further consultation on planning measures and trialling a register of empty commercial properties;
- Supporting local council a new High Streets Task Force, giving councils access to expert advice where needed;
- And strengthening community assets, restoring historic buildings, supporting community groups to use empty properties, providing a 100 per cent mandatory relief for public lavatories from April 2020 and continuing the £1,500 business rates discount for local newspapers on their office space in 2019-20.