Everyone here today knows how important our high streets are to towns and cities across Britain. They're not just the places we go to shop. They're the heart of our local communities. But today our high streets are changing -and often not for the better.
Take an example. One of the fastest growing businesses on the high street are the payday lenders, sometimes charging extortionate rates of interest. In hard times, it is no wonder people turn to them. But often they just engulf people in debts that they cannot pay. Interest rates of over 1000%.
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.
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