Page last updated at 11:04 GMT, Saturday, 15 November 2008

Concern over rise in empty shops

Fleet Walk, Torquay
Some national retailers have closed shops in the Bay area

Traders have raised concerns over the growing number of empty shops in Torbay, Devon.

Figures for July showed 130 shops in the Bay were vacant - 63 in Torquay, 42 in Paigtnon and 25 in Brixham.

The number is considerably higher than Plymouth, Exeter and Barnstaple, which combined currently have about 50 empty retail properties.

In an effort to reverse the trend, Torbay Council has recruited a town centre manager.

All we seem to have at this end of the town is charity shops and empty spaces
Garry Wood, Westcountry Flowers

Traders in the Bay believe the recent opening of two major shopping centres - Drake Circus in Plymouth and Princesshay in Exeter - has affected their trade.

Garry Wood, who runs Westcountry Flowers in Torquay's Union Street, said the outlook for many traders appeared gloomy.

"All we seem to have at this end of the town is charity shops and empty spaces," he said.

"We're all rather concerned about what sort of Christmas we're going to have."

Councillor Chris Lewis, who is responsible for economic regeneration, said the situation had also been made worse by some national retailers closing down sites in the Bay.

However, despite the national downturn in the economy, he remained confident the appointment of the new town centre manager would have a positive outcome.

"She will really be 'hands-on' with the business community and, of course, with the retail chains outside the Bay trying to encourage them to come in," he said.

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