I'm awfy worried about the high street.
Actually, I'm not all that bothered about shops and shopping but I do feel concern for all those folk who no longer have jobs in retail. David Cameron was so awfy worried about the high street he appointed Mary Portas as a tsar to reverse the decline. Ms Portas, known as the Queen of Shops, came up with a 28-point plan. But this week she is busy, along with an array (or whatever is the collective noun) of celebrities running a hotel on Channel 4. The programme, Hotel GB, is reality TV so the point of the exercise is to provide confrontational and titillating viewing. To this end, Gordon Ramsay is in the kitchen, Gok Wan is running the bar, and Ms Portas (no shrinking violet herself) is in charge of the bedrooms.
The subtext is that a number of unemployed persons have been recruited as supporting cast in Hotel GB. They may find themselves on the wrong side of the reality TV cringe factor but some will end up in full-time employment. The programme will raise cash for job-creation charities.
What we have here is an opportunity for Tsar Portas to broaden the Hotel GB economic metaphor on to the high street. There is no shortage of unemployed seeking to learn and use skills, plenty of empty retail premises, and no lack of TV chefs and other celebrities.
The Portas plan for the high street envisages the setting up of loads of community hubs alongside the usual commercial operations. Since these hubs are located in shopping zones there will be opportunities for community-based retail activity. Coffee and tea shops, juice bars, small restaurants with salads and healthy stuff, fruit and veg stalls, fashion outlets dealing in renovated and recycled quality clothing.
It will be competition for the high street chains but Primark, Starbucks, and Sainsbury's will probably survive.
There will be zumba, Pilates, Indian head massage, and maybe a small gymnasium. People will be able to make a living. The Government will help with breaks on business rates and other financial support as part of a drive to make the high street busier and also promote healthy lifestyles.
The aforementioned celebrities will be glad to give freely of their time and fame. Even though their efforts will not necessarily feature on reality TV.
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