The local election campaign kicks off today, and Ed Miliband will use it as an opportunity to roll out a new policy – cracking down on payday loan sharks and bookies on the high street.
Speaking today in Ipswich, the Labour leader will outline plans to give greater powers to local councils to stop the spread of undesirable businesses, by extending current planning laws. According to a briefing produced by the party, the proposed policy would create:
“an additional umbrella class which allows local councils to decide if they want to place some premises in a separate planning category. This would allow local authorities to refuse planning permission on the grounds that for example opening a pay loan shop would constitute a change of use.”
That’s a significant win for the “High Streets First” campaign, who have spent the last year arguing for such changes.
Much of the impetus for this proposal stems from a feeling of powerlessness within communities about the spread of such businesses. Miliband is expected to say this morning:
“Too many councils are finding that they don’t have the real power to stand up for local people. But that is what politics is supposed to be about: standing up for those without power and giving power to them. Currently if a bank branch closes down, there’s nothing a council can do if a payday loan shop wants to move in and open up in the same place. Even if there’s another lender next door. That can’t be right.”
After his launch speech in Ipswich, Ed will travel to Cambridge and Stevenage, as part of a tour of ten towns and cities over the first three days of Labour’s local election campaign, as the party seeks to make significant gains at county level across the country.