There are 3,710 fewer fruit and veg shops, butchers, and newsagents than there were in 2010.

Over the last few decades our much- loved high streets have been struggling.

Since 2022, 385 towns have seen their only bank branches close. Between 2012 and 2022, Yorkshire and the Humber saw a huge 43 percent decline in the number of bank and building society branches. In 2023, here in Barnsley, Barclays closed its Hoyland branch for good, meaning that Barnsley East constituency no longer has a physical bank branch. This is something I raised this in Parliament.

It's not just high street shops and bank branches that are closing, but issues like crime and antisocial behaviour have been an issue in Barnsley. I have been contacted by many residents who have experienced antisocial behaviour and are concerned about the crime rate locally.

This is a national problem. According to the British Retail Consortium, incidents of violence and abuse towards retail workers rose to 1,300 incidents per day in the UK in 2023.

This is unacceptable, and the risk of experiencing or witnessing a serious crime of course discourages people from using their local high streets, further contributing to their decline.

The Labour Party have a plan to breathe life into our high streets. We would tackle anti-social behaviour and crime by putting 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs back on the beat. Everyone deserves to feel safe when they shop, eat or socialise in their local high street.

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We would tackle the decline in bank branches by rolling out banking hubs, connecting with banks to ensure that costs are covered, and delivering the face-to-face service that is necessary to boost local shops in every community.

Small businesses in local high streets need government support to ensure that they are able to compete with online giants. That is why a Labour Government would replace business rates with a new system of business property taxation, with the view of levelling the playing field.

We would also stamp out late payments from big businesses to small and independent retailers, to ensure that they cam confidently continue trading.

High streets were once the centre of communities, and, with the right support, they can be once again.

Labour has the best interests of communities, businesses and local areas.