Letter - Stop the negativity over empty shops

FOLLOWING on from the letter that appeared in the Wakefield Express last week I can appreciate there are frustrations within the community however we cannot make progress with this continuous negative commentary on the number of empty shop units in the city centre.

We now have a thriving city centre partnership, which is well attended and addressing issues through a plan of action – and is tackling issues including empty shop units.

There will always be a need for planning controls – the alternative is a city centre full of bars, takeaways, amusements and betting shops. 

Research undertaken on behalf of the partnership has identified that vacancy rates in Wakefield are around 16%. This is in line with the national average, but much better than most of our surrounding towns and cities.

Nonetheless, the partnership members are not complacent and we are working hard to bring forward initiatives to help revitalise our city.

We are exploring all sorts of ways of bring empty shops back into use and we welcome any suggestions of how we can take this forward.

I feel the comments made by David Woodhead in last week’s Express were unfair and undermine a lot of positive, hard work that is taking place in the city.

Woodheads, as major city centre landlord and business, have been invited to be part of the city centre partnership for the last year and have not yet attended a single meeting.

I want to yet again invite them to come along and participate in our productive discussions. That way we can all pull together to improve Wakefield for everyone who works, lives and shops here.

Barbara Winston

Chair of Wakefield City Centre Partnership and

Centre Manager of The Ridings