Plan aiming to breathe life into high streets
THE Conservatives in Wales have launched a plan to help turn the fortunes of struggling high streets around .
Footfall in town centres has fallen by a fifth in the last five years, while the shop vacancy rate in Wales is 4 per cent above the UK average.
Wales also has one of the lowest business start-up rates of all the UK nations and regions.
And this includes small towns within cities, such as Morriston, Gorseinon and Mumbles.
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South Wales West AM Byron Davies said: Byron Davies AM, Shadow Minister for Transport and Regeneration, said: "The Welsh high street should be the bustling heart of a community, but sadly, too many are blighted by vacant and dilapidated shop fronts.
"While the rise of internet shopping and out-of-town shopping centres has impacted on local trade, our high streets have also suffered from neglect and a lack of leadership.
"The proposals Welsh Conservatives are publishing set out a bold and ambitious vision to regenerate our high streets.
"These can apply across Wales, including places like Gorseinon."
One of those proposals is to introduce a dual "business rate multiplier" for small and large businesses. It could see those with a rateable value of less then £12,000 a year have complete rate relief.
Mr Davies added: "It's not a Tesco tax aimed at the big supermarkets, it's just to create a level playing field. We are not against supermarkets.
"This is something that Gorseinon in particular has felt recently with the new Asda.
"Businesses have also raised the issue of the number of charities shops in town centres. I'm not being critical of charity shops, but traders do complain that charity shops are taking space with their 80 per cent rate relief.
"We also want to see more town centre managers. In cities like Swansea we would like to see a team of stakeholders and traders from the towns meet with the local authority and a central manager and work on what's best."
Issues raised to Mr Davies, the party's Shadow Minister for Transport and Regeneration, have also included parking, and he added: "A number of local authorities have experimented with expanding free parking, which is vital for older consumers and those with young children."