Huddersfield Chamber of Commerce: Retail heart is being ripped out of town centre
Aug 5 2009 By Nick Lavigueur
HUDDERSFIELD’S business chiefs have hit out at the lack of urgency in helping struggling shopkeepers.
The attack came from the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce head of policy Steven Leigh after a report from the British Property Federation revealed the number of vacant shops in England and Wales had tripled.
The number of empty shops across England and Wales had risen from 4.5% to 12% a year ago, according to a comprehensive researched report by the Local Data Company that covers every area of the country.
The report blamed the surge in empty shops last year on the introduction of empty property rates in April 2008.
Speaking after a meeting with government ministers from Lord Mandleson’s Department for Business last week, Mr Leigh said they had made it very clear to the Westminster officials that small businesses were on their knees.
He said: “During difficult times businesses can trim their staff costs and their stocks, but there’s nothing whatsoever they can do about business rates.
“People are suffering genuine hardship from this now and business owners want us to recognise that people are in trouble.”
With Tesco set to open outside the ring road at Southgate and Asda seeking permission for a large store at Chapel Hill, Mr Leigh said the retail heart was set to be ripped out of Huddersfield.
“They say 500 jobs will be created, but there could be more than that going from the town centre,” he added.
“The small shopkeeper can’t make a living in the town centre anymore. People won’t cross the ring road once those supermarkets are built.