Kevin Buckle: It’s time for a more cultured shopping experience

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There is no doubt that high street shopping has changed forever but councils are capable of making a big difference in the survival of a varied and interesting retail offering.

I doubt any council has a greater ability than Edinburgh to decide on the look of its high streets, and indeed the High Street, given the amount of property it owns.

And it has to be time now for them to positively favour those retailers who will add something to an area. Given the vast sums of money Edinburgh council deals with, the rental income from its shops is small fry indeed and a few thousand pounds either way is nothing in the big picture.

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While paid officials are obliged to look for the highest rent, it is time that councillors took positive steps to bring back some variety to the shops people are faced with when they go shopping.

Obviously there are many properties the council doesn’t control but they could at least lead the way and, while the rates relief for small shops is certainly a good idea, it could maybe be extended to encourage the sort of businesses that would be welcome but struggle given the economic climate and move to online shopping.

Culture takes many forms and given the recent support shown by the Scottish Government the presence of culture on the high street should be given more thought along with what other shopping experiences will tempt people back to the high street.

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