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Wyre Forest council praised for bringing empty shops back into use
10:10am Wednesday 25th September 2013 in News
A MAJOR report into retailing in town centres has praised initiatives promoted by Wyre Forest District Council to bring empty shops back into use.
The Grimsey Review is published by Bill Grimsey, together with other leading names in retail management. Mr Grimsey was previously customer servicesdDirector at Tesco and masterminded the recovery and expansion of Wickes DIY Group.
The review examined the decline and difficulties of high street retailing and was generally critical of local authorities’ failure to react to the downturn.
It identified Wyre Forest District Council, however, as one of a small number of councils to respond creatively to the Mary Portas Government-backed initiative to breathe new life into city and town high streets.
One hundred councils each received £100,000 to spend on regenerating their town centres.
The review stated: “Wyre Forest District Council, for example, spent £12,000 out of its £100,000 High Street Innovation Grant bringing 10 empty shops back into use through business rate discounts.
“Their use of the grant was exactly as it was intended and had the desired effect. It was extremely cost efficient and they should be commended. It also demonstrates the effectiveness of discounting business rates.”
Since the research for the review was done, Wyre Forest District Council has helped more local businesses.
Conservative councillor John Campion, leader of the council and cabinet member for economic prosperity, said: “As of today we have supported 20 new shops with business rate relief and given 12 grants to refurbish and upgrade premises. Most of these new ventures are trading well and further applications are in the pipeline.”
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