Plaque unveiled to mark Rotherham’s award-winning High Street
COMMUNITIES secretary Sajid Javid said Rotherham Borough Council should “take encouragement” from the success of High Street to help regenerate other parts of the town centre.
The Advertiser revealed last month that a quarter of the shops in the town centre were empty between January and April.
Figures from the council showed 94 out of 378 units were vacant – the highest since records began in 2010.
But as he unveiled a plaque to celebrate the town winning the award for Best Town Centre High Street in the Great British High Street awards last year, Mr Javid said: “This part of the town centre should be very encouraging to the other parts because these shops were empty.
“There are initiatives such as cuts to business rates that should appeal to small businesses but there is still a lot of work to be done.”
Mr Javid, who took up the role of communities secretary as part of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Cabinet reshuffle in July, also met council bosses and commissioners during his visit.
He said: “As we all know, Rotherham has had some challenging times and we need to work together – central government, local government, the council and police – to make sure we are turning around from the challenges of the past.
“What I have seen is very much encouraging. More powers are being handed back to the council and I think a lot of good work is being done.”
Rotherham Council leader Cllr Chris Read said High Street played an “important” role in the regeneration of Rotherham.
He added: “It was great to win the award last year, which recognised the hard work carried out by the retailers and business owners who believed in the high street and made their own investment alongside a number of partners.
“This restoration plays a crucial part in our ambitious plans to regenerate not just Rotherham town centre but across the borough as well.
“It is a credit to all those involved to see the High Street looking as good as it does now.”