According to figures released by the Local Data Company (LDC), the North-East is the only region in the country to have shown a decline in its fortunes with an increase in shop vacancy rates by 0.4% to 16.4%.
Stockton is the area with the fifth highest rate of empty shops in Britain, with 23.9% vacant, according to figures compiled by the Local Data Company (LDC).
Arnott, the region’s local MEP, said “The report highlights how the North East’s once thriving high streets are being left to the dust bins of history whilst the rest of the country moves forward.
“Drastic action is needed to attract businesses and customers from the convenient out-of-town shopping malls and back to the high street, which were once the life blood of communities right across the country.
“In Stockton, scrapping the first two hours parking charge would be a step in the right direction to draw greater business interest into the local area and shoppers into the town”.
Matthew Hopkinson, director at the Local Data Company, said: “The first half of 2014 has shown a positive improvement in vacancy rates across the country both by geography and location type.
“What is very clear, however, is that this positive trend is not universal and hides significant variances.”
The North-east is the part of Britain where retail parks are performing best against high streets, with 18.6% of high street shops empty, compared to 7.8% in retail parks.
Arnott continued, “Yet again, a worrying pattern is emerging; whilst the rest of the country’s fortunes improve, the North East is left behind. I would urge councillors, not just in Stockton, but right across the North East to consider reducing car parking charges in a small step to attract business and punters back to the high street”.