Empty shops ‘need to be open for business’

Empty shop units in Motherwells Brandon Street.
Empty shop units in Motherwells Brandon Street.

Empty town centre shops should be offered free to traders in an effort to provide a much-needed boost for business.

That’s the view of the Federation of Small Businesses which has highlighted North Lanarkshire’s relatively low start-up and self-employment rates.

The number of vacant premises in Motherwell has long been a cause for concern.

Two years ago shopkeepers in Windmillhill Street called on North Lanarkshire Council to reduce rents for its commercial properties after a spate of closures.

At that time the council insisted High Street trading conditions were the cause of shops shutting rather than high rents.

This week Tony Higgins, chair of the FSB in Lanarkshire, said: “North Lanarkshire’s start-up figures and self-employment rate are lower than Scotland’s average, so it is important for the council to look at the barriers to establishing a business in the area.

“To boost business activity and entrepreneurship, the council should offer disused council town centre premises for free to local start-up businesses, pop-up operators or the self-employed.”