Portas lays out her retail rescue plan


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The Independent Online

The retail guru Mary Portas will call for relaxed rules for setting up street stalls and a national market day to reverse the fortunes of Britain's beleaguered high streets.

Portas was recruited by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, in May to lead a review into the future of Britain's town centres, with the aim of tackling a rise in shop vacancy rates and encouraging independent retailers.

Vacancy rates have more than doubled on British high streets to 14.5 per cent over the past two years, as a weak economy has driven shoppers to look for bargains online or out of town.

Ms Portas, who helped to turn around struggling shops in her television series Mary Queen of Shops, will ask ministers to appoint "high street managers" when she delivers he recommendations to the Prime Minister tomorrow.

She will argue that a relaxation of licensing rules for market stalls will make it easier for people to set up stands in their local high street, and will bring people back into town centres. She is also expected to ask the Government to consider a tax on car parks at out-of-town shopping centres.

The report was received positively by Richard Dodd, of the British Retail Consortium. He said: "Based on what we are hearing this weekend, it seems there are a good number of sensible ideas in the report which, if taken together and adopted, could make a difference to many of our troubled high streets."