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Traders say more should be done to get investment in Burslem

Towns in the West Midlands have some of the highest number of empty shops in the country.

That's according to The Local Data Company, which monitors shopping centres and retail parks in the UK.

They found that Burslem in Staffordshire is the worst for vacant shops in England. Traders told ITV News Central more needs to be done to attract businesses to the area. Rajiv Popat reports.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council say the report confirms what they already knew from their own retail report last June.

It is a complex issue that is not going to be solved overnight and isn’t unique to this area.

Our regeneration strategy is about working closely with private sector partners, helping to create the space and conditions for businesses to thrive and focusing on the unique strengths of our individual towns.

At the same time we are striving to build commercial confidence in our transformed city centre and broadening our economic outlook beyond retail space in favour of more sustainable alternatives such as enterprise and educational usage.

– Cllr Mohammed Pervez, Stoke-on-Trent City Council

Half of top ten worst towns for empty shops in West Midlands

Boarded-up shops Credit: Yui Mok/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Five of the top ten worst town centres in the country for empty shops are in the West Midlands.

The Local Data Company has found that Burslem in Staffordshire is the worst for vacant stores in England, with Stoke-on-Trent coming in second. Dudley in the West Midlands had previously been top of the list for three years running.

The report found that 20% of all the shops it tracked had been vacant for more than three years, which amounts to almost 10,000 outlets.

"This is the equivalent of five Manchesters lying empty."

– Local Data Company director Matthew Hopkinson
Burslem in Staffordshire has the most empty shops of any town in the UK Credit: Google Maps

The top 10 worst town centres for vacant retail and leisure space contain five in the West Midlands, four in the North West and one in the North East.

The top three are Burslem in Staffordshire with a vacancy rate of 29.4 per cent, Stoke-on-Trent with a vacancy of 28 per cent and Hartlepool in County Durham, with a vacancy rate of 27.3%.

The top 10 best town centres have six in Greater London and the South East.

"At a regional level the polarisation between the North and the South is as wide as ever with London's vacancy rate being less than half that of the northern regions."

– Local Data Company director Matthew Hopkinson

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Fire at former Pottery was deliberate

A fire at a derelict pottery factory in Stoke-on-Trent was deliberate, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service have said.

The fire the former Wade Pottery in Westport Road, Burslem, broke out in the early hours of yesterday morning.

At its height, 40 firefighters were on the scene.

The Service is warning people about the dangers of setting fire to derelict buildings

Setting fires in derelict premises is an incredibly dangerous thing to do as not only does the fire spread quickly through these type of old, complex buildings, the firefighters who have to search the premises and deal with the fire are put at great risk as invariably floorboards and staircases are damaged or intentionally removed. Deliberate fires are extremely costly to deal with and a drain on our precious resources. There is too the possibility that whilst we are attending a fire set by an arsonist, we might be unable to respond to a genuine emergency.

– Incident Commander Mark Walchester