Gazette readers have had their say after a South Tyneside councillor called on private landlords to lower rental rates in the town centre.
Coun Lee Hughes has spoken out over the number of properties in King Street, South Shields, which are available for rent, some of which cost £50,000.
The independent councillor believes these prices are putting off potential businesses and everyone would benefit from reductions which may well help turn the area back into a thriving shopping centre.
He said: “Instead of asking huge sums of cash for an empty building – which still has to be maintained – it would be in everyone’s interests to ask for less.
“Even if they can’t make a profit, it’s surely better to lose a fiver than a tenner?
“At least they are more likely to attract a potential tenant.”
Many readers took to the Gazette’s Facebook page and website to express their views on the matter.
19Fabster73 has welcomed Coun Hughes’ calls and agrees that the rents need to be lowered.
They wrote: “At last someone has come out and said it - why has it taken so long?
“The only reason I can think of why these private landlords don’t drop king street rents and do something to upgrade their properties is that they’ve got so many across the area/country that they maybe don’t even know they own something in little south shields. £50,000 a year is outrageous, totally out of proportion.”
Some people queried whether the council could use compulsive purchase order powers and take control of the empty buildings to give them a lease of life.
Chelsie Jade Boyack typed: “If a shop has been stood empty for say a year why doesn’t the council put forth a compulsory purchase order and then lease it out at a cheaper rate and in the long term it owns the building for regeneration when it’s ready for that stage in the grand plan”
While threadbare asked: “Why hasn’t the council enforced their ‘compulsory purchase’ on these empty run down premises, refurbish them, then rent them to prospective Businesses at a price that’s affordable, rather than building new builds away from King Street?”
Maria Wilkinson believes the problem is down to the private landlords living outside the area and not being aware of the town’s situation.
She said: “That’s because a lot of the shops are owned by business people in likes of London who are charging London business rents instead of north east rents. Rent is so high that shops can’t afford to stay open because they aren’t making enough profit by time they pay rents etc.”
Tomas Thumberton believes the town’s demise, like many others across the country, is due to online shopping now becoming more popular.
He sent: “Let’s not complicate this. Shops are closing in just about every small town mainly due to people shopping online, it’s as simple as that.
Wendy Price said lack of shopping choices, mixed with a lack of free parking is contributing the issue.
She added: “I think it’s a chicken and egg situation with the poor quality shops and the parking situation. I don’t go for both reasons. I have money to spend, would like to do so in my local town, but can’t. My idea of going out shopping for the day is not pound shops, cheap shoe shops and betting shops. Neither is my idea of having lunch going to Greggs.”
While AKAseagulls thinks it all boils down to money.
They bluntly stated: “Common sense got overtaken by greed a long time ago.”