Retailers in Birmingham are being urged to back a major new council initiative to draw trade back into the city centre and restore confidence in its high streets after the recent riots.

More than £300,000 of government money has been invested in the the 'People Make Places' campaign, which includes the introduction of a free loyalty card, known as the B Card, for shoppers to use in participating independent stores.

Participating stores are being sent out free marketing material.

Launching the campaign, Cllr Timothy Huxtable, cabinet member for regeneration at Birmingham City Council, said: "We hope that this campaign will encourage everyone to enjoy the great things that their community has to offer and, with the B Card initiative, encourage them to support their local independents."

B Cards are available to all Birmingham residents and can be downloaded from the website www.BackingBirmingham.com or by cutting them out of newspaper advertisements.

More than 500 independent retailers have already signed up to the scheme and many more are expected to do so in the coming days.

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