The Northern Agenda

🛒 How our high streets can survive - and thrive - in the North

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Episode notes

Let's start with a question: how often do you go to your nearest town or city centre? For many, the answer would be: not as much as I used to. And there are a host of reasons for that: the rise of online shopping, people working from home instead of offices, and even the cost of living crisis.

It is perhaps easy to understand, then, why Britain has lost 6,000 storefronts in just five years after the combined pressures of Covid, the cost of living crisis, and the rise in business rates. Local leaders have described these factors on our high streets as "devastating".

But at the same time, it is clear that the state of our high streets, whether it's in a big city centre or a small market town, really matters to voters who consistently put it at the top of their priorities.

If we are no longer going to our towns to shop, our urban centres need to offer something different in order to survive - whether that's leisure, green space, or even somewhere to live.

On this week's episode, Rob Parsons investigates how this agenda is progressing across the North, speaking to those in the know in Wakefield, a city in West Yorkshire, and Ormskirk, a smaller market town in Lancashire. The Northern Agenda editor also speaks to a national leading expert on town centre management on what these places need to do to succeed.

Rob chats to:

⬆️ Michael Graham, the Labour councillor for Wakefield West

⬆️ Ojay McDonald, Chief Executive of the Association of Town & City Management

⬆️ Jamie Lopez, senior reporter for Lancs Live


The Northern Agenda is a Laudable production for Reach. It is presented by Rob Parsons, and produced by Daniel J. McLaughlin.

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