Retail expert Mary Portas dismissed criticism from MPs on the Communities and Local Government Committee who said her high street review was ‘a waste of time‘ and ‘a failure.‘
Ms Portas, who launched the report in 2011, said Government work should ‘come with a health warning.‘
“I have taken a huge bashing for the work I have done for nothing. I wish someone had held my hand on navigating politics because it has been a bit tough,” she said.
She argued that Government needed to have ‘joined-up thinking‘ in the response to ailing high streets. “It‘s not going to be all about retail. We need to create high streets that are destinations for communities. It will require thought and different types of shops as well as schools and health destinations,” she added.
Portas also dismissed criticism from Bill Grimsey, the former boss of Wickes and Iceland, who said her report was ‘nostalgic,‘ ‘simply foolish‘ and ‘little more than a PR stunt.‘
Grimsey is urging a £550m levy to rescue the high street as an alternative to Portas plan. The levy would include freezing car parking charges for a year making it compulsory for all ‘mega mall‘ developments to create a percentage of affordable space for local traders or market stall pitches; and switching the business rates multiplier from the retail prices index to an annualised consumer prices measure.
She said: “I must have done something to Bill Grimsey in a former life.. it must be that I didn‘t speak to him about my review.” Ms Portas said she was proud of her report. “Most people do a report and walk away,” she said. “Two years down the line I am still fighting for it.”