Jeremy Corbyn unveils 'radical' plan to rejuvenate high streets by seizing empty shops
Jeremy Corbyn has announced a "radical" plan to rejuvenate flagging high streets by seizing empty shops.
A Labour government would hand local authorities the power to reopen shops left vacant for more than 12 months in a bid to "revive Britain's struggling high street", the party said.
The plans would see start-ups, co-operative businesses and community projects offered the empty retail units after new figures found 10% of town centre properties are currently sitting empty.
The party has not outlined how they would acquire the properties, but vowed to establish a register of landlords of empty shops in each local authority.
Speaking ahead of a visit to a high street in Bolton, Mr Corbyn said: "Boarded up shops are a symptom of economic decay under the Conservatives and a sorry symbol of the malign neglect so many communities have suffered.
"Once thriving high streets are becoming ghost streets.
"Labour has a radical plan to revive Britain's struggling high streets by turning the blight of empty shops into the heart of the high street, with thousands of new businesses and projects getting the chance to fulfil their potential."
The announcement builds on a series of Labour pledges to revive flagging town centres, including the introduction of free wi-fi and a halt on bank branch and post office closures.
Shadow communities minister Andrew Gwynne said: "Under this Government, our high streets have suffered a retail apocalypse. High street closures are at a historic high, leaving too many of our once thriving towns abandoned and awash with boarded up shop fronts.
"Labour's radical plan will turn around the mess that the Tories have created and will give local authorities the power to make our high streets the pride of our communities that they once were."
But the Conservatives tore into the plan, warning it would "scare" investors.
Minister Jake Berry said: "Jeremy Corbyn would wreck the economy, tax small businesses and scare off the investment needed to help our high streets, meaning more boarded up shops and fewer jobs.
"We will deliver Brexit by 31 October so that we can get on with levelling up opportunities across our country and breathe new life into high streets and town centres."