Russell Kirkham, Group Marketing Director at Marshalls, comments on the role public shared spaces and the built environment industry have to support individuals, businesses and communities in light of tax increases, public spending cuts and the rising cost of living.

"With tax increases, public spending cuts and the rising cost of living, it’s never been more important to protect the shared spaces that people can enjoy for free, visit to engage with others, and connect with their communities.

"However, our research shows that four out of five people feel less safe when it’s dark in public spaces and are on average 12 times more likely to avoid areas when it’s dark compared to during daylight hours.

"Parks and gardens are considered the least safe spaces when it’s dark, with 80% of people avoiding them during this time – 40 times higher than in the daytime.

"Shared residential spaces, town centres and transport hubs are also places people would avoid when it’s dark. Whether considering cuts or investment, we must remember the role that design has to make users feel safe and included in public spaces at all times of the day and all year round.

"Not only will this help individuals, for example, by encouraging them to exercise outdoors, access training and employment opportunities, ditch their cars for public transport, and socialise with others, but this in turn, helps to support the local economy, society and environment.”