MP Jonathan Reynolds has highlighted the problems caused by derelict buildings in Stalybridge, as part of a debate on the future of town centres.
The House of Commons debate followed the publication of a review into the future of our high streets by the celebrity shopping expert Mary Portas.
And it allowed MPs to highlight the factors that were having an impact on struggling high streets across the country, as well as the solutions they thought may help.
MP Jonathan Reynolds – who has been working closely with businesses in Stalybridge town centre to identify and overcome the problems they face - highlighted the impact of empty and derelict buildings.
And he backed proposals in the Portas Review that would put more pressure on town centre landlords to maintain properties and to keep their properties tenanted.
Following the debate he said: "The people of Hyde, Stalybridge and Mossley are really proud of their town centres – but across the constituency there are signs of decline.
"In Stalybridge there are too many shops that are empty or boarded up. These derelict buildings are an eyesore and they deter people from visiting our town centre.
"Given its location next to the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, Stalybridge should be a lovely space to spend a pleasant afternoon. But instead that lovely area is dominated by the burnt out health club and the boarded up pub. It is an eyesore.
"Derelict buildings are a blot on our townscapes. Landlords are often reluctant to maintain their buildings or sell them, particularly if their value has fallen. And the powers to force those owners – who may not live in the country let alone the community – to take any action can be cumbersome and difficult to enforce.
"I am pleased that the Portas Review recognises the detrimental impact that empty properties can have and calls for an exploration of further disincentives to prevent landlords from leaving units vacant.
"Dealing with derelict buildings would make a real difference in Stalybridge – and I would be keen for my town to pilot any scheme that would help."
The Portas Review was set up in response to the ongoing decline of the high street, as they come under increasing pressure from out of town shopping centres, parking charges and a decline in the number of shoppers.
It highlights a number of ideas designed to support the high street, including reduction in business rates, setting up Town Teams, removing red tape and establishing a National Market Day, as well as looking at the role of landlords and free parking schemes.
Commenting on the Portas Report, Mr Reynolds said: "Despite the challenges faced by our town centres, they are still valued and they could have a strong future – though that future may mean smaller high streets that no longer have retail as their sole focus.
"There are many aspects of the Portas Report that are very interesting and I hope it can be used as a springboard for communities such as ours to take a lead in designing the town centres of the future."
Published 23 January, 2012