Our town centre in Colchester should be abuzz with shoppers and every shop window should be filled with an eclectic mix of shops to satiate a broad audience of consumers.

Unfortunately we are still seeing stores closing down and empty shop fronts.

We cannot place the blame on Colchester Council for the decline of the high street.

The borough council can only do so much in this current economic climate.

The root of high street decline goes higher.

I’m talking about economics on a national scale that affects the economies of local towns and cities across the country and how consumers respond to these wider economic events.

Austerity has killed off our high streets.

The government can lower taxes for businesses all it likes but unless it increases consumer confidence and disposable income then consumer demand is going to be poor.

Couple this low consumer demand with the fact that earnings haven’t risen as fast as inflation and you have a recipe for disaster.

Of course, in the past few decades consumer demand was negated by things like loans, credit and spending plans, which allows people to buy more and spread the costs out over time.

However, we now live in a period where the average level of household debt is at a peak £15,400.

We are a society drowning in and enslaved by debt and this doesn’t help consumer confidence either.

How do we regain this confidence?

Firstly, we could ease the burden on the common working people by reversing austerity and investing in our country’s infrastructure.

Secondly, ease the burden of debts on UK households and fix the debt crisis.

Decrease the cost of rents and houses on the market and, lastly, never underestimate the power of small bursts of stimulus spending to raise the disposable income of low income residents and encourage spending.

Alongside wider economic reforms we need good investment in our town centre to make it a unique place to visit.

We need a London Dungeon-style attract or a Jorvik Centre or any number of creative ideas to bring people to the centre of town as well as needing devolved powers to lower business rates.

Of course, the council has arms-length companies which could be a possible avenue for providing investment for local businesses and attractions.

We shouldn’t be afraid to couple government and business

The way we must think about the economy is that it’s a massive ecosystem.

It’s organic, it’s collaborative. It will also work better when money isn’t so centralised in central government and when local urban centres can have more free control over their investment.

Victoria Weaver

Labour Party Candidate for Castle Ward

Ipswich Road, Colchester