Salisbury readers react to mayor’s ‘ghost town’ comment

Readers have reacted to the mayor of Salisbury’s recent comments about the need to fill empty shops in the city.

Last week, the mayor of Salisbury, Cllr Caroline Corbin, said that something should be done about business rates on retail properties.

The mayor and Bemerton Heath councillor said: “Nobody is going to come to a city if it’s a ghost town. They will come because it’s vibrant and quirky.

“There’s so much need in Salisbury to move forward and progress.”

Read more: ‘Nobody will come to a ghost town’, warns mayor on empty shops in Salisbury

However, MP for Salisbury and South Wiltshire, John Glen, responded that the city had been named “top bounce-back city” in the UK by market research company Ipsos, based on recovering after Covid lockdowns.

The Conservative added: “Given the country-leading performance of our retail sector, it is disappointing to see people talk down our city and suggest becoming a ‘ghost town’ is a possibility.”

Read more: Salisbury named top bounce-back city in the UK

Journal readers have weighed in on the debate over empty shops in Salisbury.

Carl Doran commented: “Well said, Caroline Corbin, a true Salisbury person who cares about our city!!!!!”

One reader slammed the city: “once a good place for shopping is now a charity shop, phone shop and eating paradise.”

Many have said that it is high rents and business rates that put people off taking over empty premises in the city.

Matt Coombes commented: “Drop the business rates.”

Another comment said: “Stop letting all the pension companies buy up all the property and leaving them empty until they get top rent? Nothing to do with business rates if the rent is extortionate?”

Sarah Natasha wrote: “Well said – perhaps the council can significantly lower rates for independent shops.”

However, cllr for St Edmunds and Milford Ward, Atiqul Hoque, said: “Whilst every combined efforts must be taken to make our city more welcoming and vibrant, but I disagree it’s all to do with Business Rate. I know WC did its best to help support businesses over the pandemic and Novichok.

“As the Ward Cllr, one of the Major issue I face and often being told when talking to businesses is the high rent, and that’s because most buildings are owned by pension firms, who seems to careless if it’s open or close and won’t negotiate when the lease is up for renewal! Its a real problem, unlike private landlord who will.

“I dare say our estate agents also needs to play role when it comes to valuing and not value too high where it’s good for owners but then shops remain empty for many months some years. #lovesalisbury #shoplocal”

Linda Canning added that Salisbury has many more independent shops that many other towns, and that it is a general trend that the high street is moving towards “things you can’t get online – social interaction, pleasant surroundings, a chance to touch and feel products, etc.”

Some of our readers complain that it is the cost of parking, combined with “no worthwhile shops” that discourage shoppers to come and support the local economy.

What would you like to see in Salisbury?

How do you think Salisbury should fill it’s empty shops?

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Salisbury Journal | News