This week you voted for us to ask Kirklees Council why shop units were left empty, and why didn't they lower rates so more shops could open.

It’s a problem that has hit Huddersfield and many other towns and cities across the UK.

Once-busy streets are blighted by row after row of empty shop units.

Kirklees Council are aware of the problem and are looking at different ways of dealing with the issue.

And it’s obviously something that concerns many of our readers.

Some of Huddersfield's empty units

Video thumbnail, Retail units to let in Huddersfield town centre
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This week’s “Ask Examiner” question, from Gillian Burton, was: Why does Kirklees leave shopping units empty? Why not lower the rates so more shops can open?

The answer is not as simple as first appears.

Many of the properties in the town centre are owned by private landlords, who run shopping centres, and the council has powers to grant permission for them to be used a retail units.

The council is responsible for collecting business rates, but these are determined at national level.

Business rates charged to occupiers or owners of non-domestic properties contribute towards the cost of local services provided by Kirklees.

This provides a direct financial incentive for Kirklees to work with local businesses to create a favourable local environment for growth and Kirklees will benefit from growth in business rates revenues.

Clr Peter McBride, Kirklees Council cabinet member for regeneration, said the council was working with businesses, transport authorities, Kirklees College and the University of Huddersfield to plan investment in the town.

He added: "The councils do not decide or determine private investment in town centre retail. We can and do try to create a climate for investment by encouraging footfall from those living in the towns plus those travelling through town and by funding events from time to time. We can act as a catalyst but we cannot direct investment.”

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A council spokesperson said: “Business rates are currently set by government, however there are a number of schemes that the council implements to support local businesses with their rates.

"There are small business relief, discretionary rate relief (for charities and not for profit organisations) and rural rate relief.

"The Government is currently looking to review business rates with the aim of giving councils greater freedoms, however the findings have not yet been reported.”

Unless the property is exempt from the business rates list, each non-domestic property has a rateable value set by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).

It is the VOA’s responsibility to maintain the valuation of all business properties. Rateable values broadly represent the yearly rent the property could have been let for on the open market on a particular day.

Now it's over to you again - what would you like us to investigate this week? It could be anything! For example, do you know where the money from court fines goes? Or did you know Huddersfield has hundreds of paintings in storage - why can't they go on display?

Post your questions in the comments section below!

Here are some questions we've already answered - click below to read them!

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