Mary Portas' plan to save the high street

TV fashion adviser, commissioned by Cameron to review Britain's high streets, calls for urgent actio

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TV fashion adviser, commissioned by Cameron to review Britain's high streets, calls for urgent action.{C}

Retail guru Mary Portas, known for her TV series Mary Queen of Shops and Mary Queen of Frocks, today released a report urging immediate action to save Britain's ailing high streets.

In the long-awaited review, commissioned by David Cameron in May in the face of skyrocketing town centre vacancy rates, Portas examines the "erosion, neglect and mismanagement" wreaked on high streets throughout England by the recession and sets out 28 recommendations to reverse the downward trend.

"High streets are the heart of towns and communities", Portas notes in her report -- but without urgent action, she warns, they could "disappear forever".

To breathe new life into the high street, Portas proposes a range of planning policy incentives including free parking in town centres and the implementation of new operational management "Town Teams".

She also suggests community "Swapshops" which, she says, would drawn on the "skills people have honed online through sites such as ebay" in a real-world setting and a "National Market Day", on which locals could "rent out tables for a tenner" and try their hand at running a retail business.

Other recommendations include the implementation of new disincentives to prevent landlords from leaving units vacant and the deregulation of high street market trading "so that anyone can trade on the high street".

David Cameron today said he was "delighted" that Portas had "produced such a clear vision on how we can create vibrant and diverse town centres".

"The High Street should be at the very heart of every community, bringing people together, providing essential services and creating jobs and investment; so it is vital that we do all that we can to ensure they thrive", added Cameron.

The government will review Portas' recommendations publish its response next spring.