Empty shops do not pay rates. This encourages the landlord to sit on the property and wait for entrepreneurs to come along that will pay their high rents.
Meanwhile the shop sits as an asset on their books. But (because rates are to pay for locals services) an empty shop does not use services it is hard to find a way to ‘encourage’ these ’empty shop’ landlords to bring their rents down to a reasonable level. So they sit on them. (Queen’s Parade is a good example.) I am told that The Assembly is looking at this. (?) This also encourages shop landlords not to rent the flats or accommodation above their shops for residential development or letting… so they sit empty too. (Not all landlords – I must add.)
Also empty houses do not pay rates which encourages the same in the private sector. Hence you will see empty houses sitting vacant for a long time. Not because they are unwanted but because the rant/rates are too high or they are neglected.
Couple the above with the mess of the rates system and you have a spaghetti of bureaucratic regulations which slows the local economy. Council only sets a part of the rates. Another huge chunk is put on top by the DOE and they answer to no-one. (Others would argue that they answer to the Assembly.)
So: I would like to suggest a deadline rate: If your shop sits empty for over three months you start to pay a proportion of the rates. Private houses – over a year empty and they start to pay a proportion.
Making cuts to the rates for new businesses for a short period of time would be a good encouragement as well.I would be interested in opinions on this.