Rates of empty shops worrying

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THIS week’s new figures on shop vacancies in our region make for worrying reading. Although nationally shop vacancy has declined, in the North West vacancy rates have increased.

In our region the vacancy rate now stands at 17%, more than twice the percentage in London.

Couple this with the difference in housing markets and it seems that the North/South divide is getting worse, not better.

The North West Green Party would like to see more support for small independent shops that are in direct competition with supermarkets and other chains.

We believe local independent shops are vitally important to the community; they provide more employment than the big retailers, money spent in them stays in the local area, and because they are more local shoppers don’t need to use their cars to get to them.

In light of the alarming vacancy rates on our high streets we’re re-iterating our call for councils to support the ‘Robin Hood’ levy proposed by campaign group ‘Local


This would see supermarkets with rateable values of more than £500,000 paying an additional 8.5% on business rates.

It’s only fair that the big supermarkets invest some of their massive profits in local communities to protect our high streets from further decline.

Peter Cranie

North West Green Party European elections candidate