// High Street Task Force appoints more than 150 experts to help England councils deliver high street evolution
// The experts will work with local authorities in England over the next 4 years to support their transformation efforts
// The authorities will receive free expert advice, mentoring and other help to evolve town centres, progress plans, respond to Covid-19 and more
The government-backed High Streets Task Force has appointed more than 150 experts to advise councils across England on its high streets and town centres.
The task force said the experts would work with local authorities in England over the next four years to support their transformation efforts and address complex barriers to change.
The authorities will receive free expert advice, mentoring and other help – all funded by the UK Government – that can help them to evolve their town centres, progress local plans, bid for investment, and respond to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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The High Streets Task Force said the new “experts register” is the first of its kind in the UK – bringing together experienced professionals across a broad range of specialisms, from architecture to planning, to sustainable design, place leadership and civic engagement.
The task force added that these experts, mentors and facilitators would deliver a range of services, including workshops with local authorities and communities to explore and build local visions, mentoring for place leaders, and bespoke advice to help councils tackle complex issues that are blocking progress.
The task force has also provided online support and resources for places since June 2020, focusing on Covid-19 response and recovery as well as longer term regeneration.
The newly-appointed experts, mentors and facilitators will continue this work through a mix of remote and in-person delivery where appropriate, beginning in late 2020 with places selected by the Task Force based on local need.
“Our work with high streets has shown the vast range of strategic and practical issues that local authorities and other actors have to address, particularly after the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic,” High Streets Task Force research lead Professor Cathy Parker said.
“There are the very current challenges of ensuring communities can use their high streets with confidence, providing appropriate support for businesses and other organisations.
“At the same time, place leaders are managing the evolution of centres so they become vibrant community hubs.
“The Task Force recognises that it’s very difficult for one place to have all the answers to all these challenges. Our experts, mentors and facilitators will help to build that capacity, providing expertise that’s really needed and simplifying the advisory landscape for places that are busy getting on with change.”
High Streets Task Force executive director Simon Quin said: “Our experts will work with places in greatest need. They bring deep insight into town centre change and experience of working with communities to build capacity.
“This will support the development of the collaborative and challenging visions our town centres require.
“The experts have a broad range of experience and knowledge specialisms that will enable local partnerships to move forward.”
The High Streets Task Force provides training and data to place managers and has a programme of footfall counting and analytics that is being rolled out across the country.
Its footfall dashboards provide models of annual, monthly, weekly and daily footfall for any town centre location, to support decision making and monitor economic recovery.