Some landlords of empty shops in Cheltenham are refusing to engage in the debate on how to fill their premises, Liberal Democrats reveal today.
17 owners of shops in the town centre have failed to respond to letters urging them to work with the town.
The news comes as High Street rents remain high, which combines with the government’s refusal to reform business rates to create a toxic environment.
“The future of our town centre is under threat and we know local people are concerned,” said council leader Cllr Steve Jordan (Lib Dem, All Saints).
“We are already working with some landlords but we desperately need all of them to recognise that their properties won’t be filled unless their demands for rent are more realistic and it’s in nobody’s interests for shops to remain empty.
“Meanwhile, retailers continue to tell the government that business rates should be reformed and we agree, but we really need the Conservatives in Westminster to start listening.
“We all know that people are increasingly shopping online and our High Streets are bound to evolve over time. However, that doesn’t mean that the government and landlords should be able to get away with the current inflexible and short-sighted approach.”
The 17 landlords were contacted by Cheltenham BID, which represents businesses in the town. It was setup with support from the Lib Dem administration to act as a strong voice for the local business community.
The borough council Lib Dem leadership will continue to press for action from landlords and the government over the coming months.
“We are investing heavily in our town centre and have a plan to ensure it continues to outperform other similar destinations,” said Cllr Jordan.
“Our town centre vision has proven popular. It includes upgrades to the High Street and measures to improve the environment, balancing the economy and the planet.”