A CAMPAIGN has been launched to revive Dorset’s high streets after a spate of high-profile retail failures.

Dorset Chamber says it wants “radical ideas” and strategies for the county’s shopping areas.

Its intervention comes as talks go on to find a route out of administration for Bournemouth-based department store chain Beales.

The chamber’s campaign is called Revitalising the High Street.

Its chief executive, Ian Girling, said: “For some time now the high street has been hit by a perfect storm of changing consumer tastes and habits, the rise of online shopping and longstanding problems with business rates.

“The sluggish economy, falling town centre footfall, out of town shopping and issues surrounding town centre antisocial behaviour, homelessness and begging problems have all also had a part to play.

“Many retailers have displayed great resilience, innovation and entrepreneurialism to adapt and keep the high street alive. However the high street needs greater support if it is to survive.

“The face of retail is undoubtedly changing as we see different types of experiential businesses emerge and grow, such as tattooists, barbers and coffee shops. The high street is going through huge change.”

He added: “To date, there have been too many ‘sticking plaster’ solutions, not addressing the underlying issues.

“As we look to the future, we need to be bolder with our thinking, and radical ideas and broader strategic thinking are required.

“This includes the long overdue requirement for a radical overhaul of business rates and key organisations working more closely to from a strategic vision.

“Decisive action is urgently needed to address the fundamental challenges facing the sector but also consider ways to harness new trends, capitalise on opportunities and stimulate growth.”

The chamber wants councils, town chambers and business improvement districts to join other “stakeholders” in creating a “county-wide town centre vision”.

Mr Girling will write to chancellor Sajid Javid and Dorset MPs.

Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “We are fully supportive of the Dorset Chamber’s campaign to support the high street.

“The government has an early opportunity to demonstrate that it is listening to business communities at its Budget in March, and it needs to cut the crushing up-front costs that are holding so many firms back.

“We will be pressing the case on behalf of the Dorset Chamber and others nationwide at the highest level for measures to give businesses the breathing room and support they need.”