Shropshire Star

Does Rachel Reeves have the key to reviving the high street? We interviewed the shadow chancellor

The routes had been painstakingly choreographed, the photo opportunities meticulously planned.

Rachel Reeves shows off her freshly cut key to Timpsons manager Marvin Marcus and shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds

First Rachel Reeves visits a new independent cafe, exchanging genial small talk with the former bus driver owner. Then a carefully-marshalled walkabout through Stafford's Greengate Street to the branch of Timpsons, where the shadow chancellor tries her hand at cutting a key.

Maybe a visit to the cobblers runs the risk of some unflattering headlines, but on the whole, everything is running like clockwork.

And then, just as the television cameras start to roll, a group of young scallies appear from nowhere chanting 'Vote Reform!'

Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds, Stafford Labour candidate Leigh Ingham and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves outside the Ancient High House in Greengate Street, Stafford

The best laid plans and all that.

If these exuberant young men had put the shadow chancellor off her stride, she wasn't showing it. Miss Reeves appeared a picture of serenity as she explained her aspirations for the high streets of the West Midlands, flanked by shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds and Stafford candidate Leigh Ingham.

"One of the big signs of whether an economy is doing well or not is whether the high street is flourishing," Miss Reeves says in an interview for the Express & Star.

Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and Labour candidate for Stafford Leigh Ingham chat to Andy Keen, owner of The Coffee Bar and Kitchen in Mill Street, Stafford

"We have just walked up the high street, and Leigh's been pointing out to me the number of the vacant units, and the challenges that poses for local town centres, including here in Stafford."