URGENT and radical action is needed to inject new life into Ellesmere Port town centre before it is too late a councillor has warned.
With almost 18 per cent of shops empty and fast food giant McDonald’s on the way out, councillor Justin Madders fears for the town centre’s future.
He has called on Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) and the UK government to cut business rates and explore what can be done to buck the trend.
“The loss of an internationally recognised brand like McDonald’s from Ellesmere Port should act as a wake up call to the council and to the government,” he said.
“They urgently need to step up to the challenge facing our high streets.
“Nationally, the retail vacancy rate stands at 14.6 per cent, a three-fold rise since 2008, and it is nearly 18 per cent in Ellesmere Port.”
Cllr Madders believes the government’s decision to delay next year’s planned business rates review until 2017 could accelerate the decline of the town centre.
“The government’s failed economic plan has caused consumer spending to fall and businesses on our high streets are bearing the brunt,” he said.
“Current rates were valued at a time when the economy was doing much better. We know it will be a long time before we see any upturn so for the sake of our local businesses, it’s essential we begin the review sooner rather than later.”
McDonald’s confirmed the closure of its Whitby Road restaurant after 27 years in the town last week, with the branch due to shut on December 16.
The company blamed ‘changing trading patterns’ in Ellesmere Port.