A problem faced by many local authorities today is how to revive our town and city centres, and ensure revenue from business rates keeps rolling into the council coffers.

When there’s a shortfall from the business sector the householders will end up paying, which is not politically popular.

Attempts to regenerate our shopping centres are perfectly laudable, but there has been a seismic shift in shopping habits.

We buy more and more online, and internet businesses don’t pay premium retail rates.

One way to reverse this trend is to buy local, and I do try to do so.

Hours spent chasing marginal discounts online isn’t an efficient use of time in my book, and I’d rather pay slightly more to support the local economy.

For better of worse, the Salisbury economy features many charity shops occupying premises whose owners can take advantage of business rate relief.

Another variation on this theme that appears from time to time is the pop-up shop or gallery, and it’s one I would like to see more of.

This Spring we saw a successful pop-up art gallery in Butcher Row, organised primarily by the artist Kate Buttimer.

The principal is the same as for charity shops.

Property owners can obtain some rate relief while the pop-up gallery is in operation, which should mean no rental costs to the exhibitors.

Nearby businesses prefer to be surrounded by new activity rather than silent dark tombs, and local artists get the opportunity to exhibit their work, and make sales.

The term ‘no-brainer’ could have been coined for this concept, as everybody seems to be a winner.

There is certainly, in Salisbury, no shortage of quality artists ready to take part in ventures of this kind.

In fact Buttimer currently has a pop-up gallery in Southampton called Monkey, which she organised in partnership with the photographer Vicky Slater.

It’s at 14-15 Hanover Buildings and the last day is this Saturday, December 20, if you want to go and see.

They now have the experience to take up any new opportunities offered in Salisbury.

The problem can be finding the property owners – if you can help, I’m sure they would want to hear from you.

It’s time to reassess the role of our city centres.

Entertainment should be a high priority (something I think Bournemouth does well), and I believe the pop-up gallery fits that category.

If its fun to be in the city, the people will come, and business will follow.

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