Dudley is worst town for shoppers, says report
Dudley has been branded the worst town for shoppers in a new report – but civic leaders today slammed the findings saying they are damaging to its prosperity.
The town centre was ranked bottom of a list of 500 shopping destinations across the country for shopping experience, hitting out at the number of betting shops, charity stores and pawnbrokers.
It comes as shopping areas across the Black Country faced criticism in the Vitality Index by retail specialist consultants Harper Dennis Hobbs.
Halesowen also featured on the list coming 433rd. In Dudley, the company recognised the town centre had been hit by the Merry Hill shopping centre. But its report did say the number of empty shops had been improving.
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Officials hit out at the report saying it fails to recognise around £200 million of recent or planning investment in the town centre.
Dudley's deputy council leader, Councillor Pete Lowe, said the report was an 'insult' with the town in the middle of a multi-million pound revamp.
"Dudley has much to be proud of and I would urge people to visit us and see all that we have to offer before making judgements from misleading statistics," he said, adding the figures could damage the future of the town.
Civic leaders said major redevelopment plans were in the pipeline to demolish the derelict Cavendish House to create a new foodstore-led scheme. Officials said work on the £6.7 million market place revamp will also benefit the town along with the drive to bring one million visitors to Dudley Zoo, Black Country Living Museum and Dudley Canal Tunnels, with the £10m Castle Hill project.
Bosses also said the town's Churchill Shopping Centre had seen a 10 per cent increase in the number of tenants since February amid improving market conditions.
Rob Heald, retail asset manager at London & Cambridge Properties, which owns and manages the shopping centre in Dudley, said: "The market place improvement plans are already under way and we are confident that this initiative, coupled with a clear vision for the future, will be the bedrock for the town's success."
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