Friday, 02 November 2018 16:41

Accolade for High Street campaigner

Written by
Gail Laser interviewed by Dom Littlewood for his 2016 BBC programme, Dom On the Spot, that featured Barnet’s parking Gail Laser interviewed by Dom Littlewood for his 2016 BBC programme, Dom On the Spot, that featured Barnet’s parking
Gail Laser, founder of Love Barnet, has won national recognition for the decade she has spent working tirelessly to improve trading conditions in Barnet High Street.

She has been declared one of four local champions for 2018 by the Save The High Street campaign, and she is on the short list for one of the High Street Heroes Awards to be announced in mid-November in a contest sponsored by Visa and the Daily Mirror.

In its citation, www.savethehighstreet.org says Ms Laser is one of the “dedicated individuals”, who through an “impressive mixture of entrepreneurship and dedication”, is fighting constantly against the narrative that mindlessly echoes the headline that “the High Street is dead.”

Her efforts to re-invigorate Barnet High Street began in 2008 when she became a Barnet Society committee member and started chairing meetings of local traders in a bid to find ways to halt the rising number of shop closures.

In 2011 she pulled together a successful bid for almost £500,000 from the Outer London Fund to smarten up the High Street.   With Barnet Council acting as banker, the Chipping Barnet Town Team – of which she became vice chair – embarked on an ambitious programme to de-clutter the High Street, removing unnecessary railings, repainting shop fronts and installing awnings.

Her next initiative was to establish her Love Barnet campaign with its Love Barnet Facebook and Twitter pages.  In a practical demonstration of her love affair with retail therapy Ms Laser has opened three temporary pop-up shops, including 89 High Street and the Tea Station in the Spires shopping centre, which with the assistance of students at Barnet and Southgate College, offered tea and cakes.

Other ventures have included establishing a local branch of Make It Your Business, a business group encouraging women to open or seek funding for new local enterprises. 

She was at the forefront of efforts to boost the Barnet Society’s “Save Our High Street” petition to secure an hour’s free parking in the High Street – a long-running, but unsuccessful campaign that was launched in 2015 and which attracted the attention of the BBC television programme, Dom on the Spot.

Ms Laser took the presenter Dom Littlewood on a guided tour of Barnet’s “parking wars front line” and told him in no uncertain terms that parking restrictions and fines had played a large part in killing off many of the High Street’s traders.

More recently she has stepped up her efforts with those pressing for the regeneration of the High Street with pavement build-outs, and in supporting plans for the construction of a Premier Inn on the Barnet Market site.

In an interview for the Save The High Street campaign, she says High Streets must change with the times, becoming smaller and increasing footfall by encouraging facilities that would allow people to socialise more, perhaps with play areas for children.

Ms Laser is on a shortlist of 12 for High Street Heroes Award, sponsored by Visa, in association with the Daily Mirror, to be announced on November 15.

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5 comments

  • Comment Link Friday, 02 November 2018 17:32 posted by PETER WANDERS

    Well done Gail!

  • Comment Link Saturday, 03 November 2018 07:37 posted by Lillian Kroonenberg

    Fabulous Gail

  • Comment Link Saturday, 03 November 2018 07:37 posted by Karen Davies

    You are such a force for good Gail thank you

  • Comment Link Saturday, 03 November 2018 23:00 posted by Simon Cohen

    Well done Gail. We need more like you

  • Comment Link Saturday, 03 November 2018 23:01 posted by Louise Rolfe

    Congratulations Gail!!

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