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Labour wants to give vacant shops to start-ups to reverse ‘retail apocalypse’ | UK News

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Empty high street shops should be given to start-ups and community projects to help reverse the “economic decay” of Britain’s town centres, Jeremy Corbyn has said.

The Labour leader said councils should be given the power to reopen abandoned shops which have been left vacant for a year or more.

It is estimated there are around 29,000 physical retail units which have been abandoned for over 12 months.

Mr Corbyn, who will be visiting Bolton on Saturday, said: “Boarded up shops are a symptom of economic decay under the Conservatives and a sorry symbol of the malign neglect so many communities have suffered. Once thriving high streets are becoming ghost streets.

“Labour has a radical plan to revive Britain’s struggling high streets by turning the blight of empty shops into the heart of the high street, with thousands of new businesses and projects getting the chance to fulfil their potential.”

Shadow local government secretary Andrew Gwynne said: “Under this government, our high streets have suffered a retail apocalypse.

“High street closures are at a historic high, leaving too many of our once thriving towns abandoned and awash with boarded up shop fronts.

“Labour’s radical plan will turn around the mess that the Tories have created and will give local authorities the power to make our high streets the pride of our communities that they once were.”

But local growth minister Jake Berry said: “Jeremy Corbyn would wreck the economy, tax small businesses and scare off the investment needed to help our high streets, meaning more boarded-up shops and fewer jobs.

“We will deliver Brexit by October 31 so that we can get on with levelling up opportunities across our country and breathe new life into high streets and town centres.”

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