‘COUNCIL MUST USE POWERS TO SAVE THE MAIN STREET’
Motherwell and Wishaw MP, Marion Fellows, has called on North Lanarkshire Council to use their new powers to support the constituency’s high streets.
Local authorities were given extensive powers by the Scottish Government in October last year to reduce non-domestic rates for businesses on a criteria of their choosing, including location and business sector.
Following Brexit, the economy has been hit with a drop in the pound sterling as investors lose confidence in the British market.
Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:
“Our local high street has long been a hub for our communities, but in recent years it has come under threat. This has not been helped by the recent vote to leave the EU.
“When you walk through the Wishaw and Motherwell town centres, there are a number of vacant properties. If businesses occupied these shopfronts, this would create employment in the community and consequently contribute to the local economy.
“It is important that we in the community support our local businesses – especially small, independent businesses which are often family run. When we buy local, we support people in our local community who in turn employ locally and spend locally. We can each do a little bit to build and support our communities.
“Labour in North Lanarkshire Council must also take action. They have been given extensive powers by the Scottish Government to reduce rates for local businesses. This would free up cash for businesses on our high street to either pay more; take on more staff; or expand their business. It would also encourage prospective entrepreneurs to start their own enterprise and reduce the number of empty shopfronts.
“Labour often complain that the Scottish Government plays the blame game with Westminster and that they should ‘get on with using their new powers’. Perhaps they will take their own advice and use their powers to support local businesses on the high street.”
Commenting, Alan McCann, owner of local business the Avenue Café on Wishaw Main Street, said:
“It is about time North Lanarkshire Council review the business rates. They have been given the powers to do so and they must take action.
“Our main street has been allowed to crumble with several units closing while Labour at NLC have given little consideration to local business owners. Small, independent businesses like mine are struggling.
“The council have also not considered what effect the café in the Houldsworth Centre would have on local cafés in the surrounding area.
“Property values from 2008 – pre-recession – are being used to determine business rates. In that time property values will have changed therefore affecting business rates.
“The system to determine business rates is antiquated and unjust for business owners. If we want to see a bustling town centre then action has to be taken to support local businesses and encourage others into the empty shopfronts.”