THE owner of a bookshop which is ending its 15-year stay in Horwich has accused Bolton Council of not doing enough to support businesses.
Martin Bott Bookdealers is leaving its Lee Lane shop in the middle of September, to concentrate its efforts on a second store in Felixstowe, Suffolk.
Owner Martin Bott says the “retail heart of Bolton has been destroyed” and blames aggressive parking policies and the council’s lack of interest in businesses for the decline.
Mr Bott, aged 51, runs his business with wife Helen after starting trading 20 years ago.
He said: “If you go into Bolton the place is dead.
“The council does not seem to do anything to promote business up here. All they seem to do is whinge. The rates up here should be a lot more realistic and we should get something back.
“The retail heart of Bolton has been destroyed but all the council does is blame the Trafford Centre or Middlebrook.”
He added: “The council here is very anti-car and is constantly trying to get money out of drivers.
“They seem obsessed with getting parking charges out of people but they are driving people away from the town.”
Mr Bott and his wife have been running the Felixstowe shop for the last year and say there are very few empty outlets in the town by comparison.
Cllr Kevin McKeon, for Horwich North East, said: “Town centres are struggling everywhere at the moment because of the economic downturn.
“Horwich is a traditional smaller town centre but it does have some very attractive businesses. Other councillors and myself have been chatting with business people and we want to work with them to try and help them. There are signs of vibrancy.”
He added that Horwich Town Council is trying to establish a Traders’ Association, while area forum funds were recently used to pay for Horwich businesses to have stalls at Middlebrook’s food and drink festival.
Cllr McKeon is also hoping to use Horwich’s £75,000 town centre fund to offer prospective businesses starting-up grants — but this scheme is yet to be agreed.
A Bolton Council spokesman said: “We are always happy to advise and work with businesses. There is unlimited free parking in Horwich town centre, and we invest a dedicated pot of money into Horwich each year to improve the area.
“However, some factors are simply outside of our control such as the setting of business rates, which is done by national government.”