I blogged a week ago about the storm around Bill Grimsey – and the Minister who decided that the Grimsey Report was ‘crap’ – his words.
But Bill Grimsey has now had his say – you can read the response here.
But some highlights….
“It was all a mistake” he told me over the phone, he was misquoted and wanted to apologise. “My dad always taught me to listen,” he continued, and that’s why we should meet.“
So they met in Westminster. But all didn’t go that well. Bill is rightly taking issue with the Rating revaluation which has been postponed.
So will Lewis change tack?
“Apparently not. He thinks the system is fine as it is and even admitted that the revaluation he postponed will see the retail sector lose out. When I put it to him that the only beneficiaries of this delay are the big retailers while small ones, particularly those in the north, will lose out, he just shrugged.”
Then a change of tack to technology which the Grimsey Review wants to embrace. The intention is to, “focus on the bigger picture and work towards a longer, richer and more imaginative plan and we can make sure our high streets are world leading spaces that will inspire our grandchildren.“
Lewis is not entirely convinced suggesting that Portas Pilots would achieve this.
Then some key points:
1. Government high street policy is not evolving; it’s standing still, defending three years of failure and protecting its celebrity face.
2. In the month or so Lewis has held responsibility for the high street, he’s spent most of his time defending the status quo. It’s as though he’s standing in the road yelling “stop” to progress.
3. There are many in his party that are passionate about the high street. Why is that the leadership are so disinterested? Tax policy that penalizes small business and is biased towards big business, planning changes to promote the proliferation of betting shops and the encouragement of short-term thinking. It all seems a long way away from the “high street revolution” that Grant Shapps promised.
As Grimsey concludes, “did you ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”