BUSINESS rates need to see change to help the ‘urgent’ situation with the number of empty commercial units the town's MP has said.
Uttoxeter’s 111 empty business units have attracted criticism with residents speaking out about the state of the town centre.
Andrew Griffiths, MP for Uttoxeter said: “I think it’s apparent to everybody that there are serious problems with the town centre and the number of empty shops.
“This is a problem across the country, but is particularly noticeable in Uttoxeter.
“I am very hopeful that in the long term we can regenerate the town centre, with the Carter Square development renewing life into the town.
“However, we need to take an urgent look at encouraging new business into the town - we need to take a look at the costs and reduce business rates to incentivise new business.”
Residents have also taken to Facebook to voice their concerns about the situation.
Steve Liddle said: “It’s the same everywhere. Landlords expect chainstore type rents, there are ludicrous business rates – as a result of a particularly harsh Westminster tax which no political party seems keen to let go - and, in Uttoxeter's case, the suicidal Dovefields 'slice of America' soaking up all the money.
“It's going to take more than free parking.”
Penny Warrington said: “It isn't just Uttoxeter, this is a reflection of all high streets across the country. Yes the out of town retail developments and car park charges don't help, but internet shopping is also having a huge impact.
"Small independent stores just can't compete with internet only retailers.
“In Uttoxeter the rents are very high, especially on the Maltings, the rates are extortionate. Hopefully the new Asda in the centre of town will offer some free parking which will encourage people to use the small independent stores too.
"Something like 56p in every pound spent in Uttoxeter goes through Tesco's tills. If you want more shops in the town, support the ones you have.”
Marie Richards, an ex-resident of Uttoxeter, said: “I lived in Uttoxeter from 1958 to 1972 and while I was there all the shops were busily trading every six days. There was always something to do.
" What a shame to hear Uttoxeter is suffering empty shop premises.
“Uttoxeter was an interesting place to live and if it wasn’t for my dad’s new job away from here in the 70s I’m sure I'd still be living in Moseley Drive and shopping in Uttoxeter. I hope a good solution is found to the empty shops soon.”
Business owner David Hunter told the Post and Times last week that the town centre is becoming busier despite the number of empty units.