What is shopping like in your town?

Struggling town centres in the Black Country and Staffordshire have been ranked among some of the worst in the country in a new league table.

How does your town fare?
How does your town fare?

Bottom of the pile in the area is Brownhills in Walsall which is ranked 988th of 1,000 in the Vitality Rankings.

The towns and cities are judged by how many empty and ‘undesirable’ retail units they have such as betting shops, pawnbrokers and loan shops.

Brownhills was followed by Wednesbury at 977, Willenhall at 922 and then Walsall which is ranked at 864.

At the other end of the spectrum, Stafford was ranked 204th, followed by Stourbridge at 240 and Brierley Hill 273.

Wolverhampton is at 557th, Dudley 614, West Bromwich 795 and Halesowen 512.

In the West Midlands, Birmingham came top, ranked at 34, while Selly Oak in Birmingham came last at 992.

In Brownhills, Ravens Court – a shopping parade which was once bustling with independent traders – now sits completely empty with almost every single shop vacant.

In total there are nearly 30 empty units in High Street in Brownhills and it’s surrounding areas.

Michael Beaman, aged 75, from Brownhills, said:“Shopping here is not very good that’s for sure. I think council’s tax people so high that people can’t make a living having shops so they’re just closing down.

“The market was fantastic and people used to come from all over to shop at Brownhills Market.”

Shellie Waldron, 51, from Bloxwich said: “It’s rubbish, disgusting. It really is terrible. The parade used to be lovely but now there’s rats and pigeons everywhere.

“Now Brownhills Market has gone which is such a shame.

“I think if they brought that back they could spent a bit more on the high street.”

Brierley Hill Traders Association chairman Shane Birch-Bastock said: “Brierley Hill High Street is like every High Street, it is not the best, it is not the worst – we are ticking along.

“We are trying to attract more big brand shops, we are doing the best we can under current conditions.”

Mr Birch-Bastock ran the Concord Market. It has since been partly leased out to Farmfoods. He says he is in negotiations with another firm to lease out more of the old market.

James Ebel, executive director for Harper Dennis Hobbs, which commissioned the report, said: “The index highlights some of the highest quality retail centres in Britain, demonstrating the fact that market size isn’t the only predictor for commercial success.”

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