A FORMER mayor and the most senior Green Party councillor in Oswestry has once again vowed to address the town's empty shop issue.

Councillor Duncan Kerr was mayor up until May this year, and upon his party's success in returning 12 of the 18 council positions, he immediately highlighted empty shops in the town as a priority.

And speaking after the town's reopening following reductions in Covid-19 restrictions – with many businesses and traders praising the response of residents so far – Cllr Kerr says work is already under way to alleviate the issue.

"The 12 green councillors on Oswestry Council are determined to address the blight caused by empty and poorly kept commercial buildings," he said.

"We accept that this problem occurs in many other towns but see no reason why that means we should not be taking action here in Oswestry.

"Some key sites such as the former Be-Wise building on Cross Street, and the adjacent former Regal building are currently being the subject of a feasibility study to see if they can be purchased and brought back into commercial use.

"Although it is only a few weeks since the election I have also made time to meet with a community activist who is seeking to take on a significant empty store and turn it into an outlet for locally sources and sustainable products.

"A wonderful example of local enterprise and innovation which needs encouragement."

Cllr Kerr added that he and colleagues have also turned their gaze upon publicly-owned buildings that are out of use too.

He added: "Although we have struggled to get property-owning companies to face up to their responsibilities we will not overlook any unused buildings in public ownership.

"This week I visited the iconic Cambrian Railway station and was disappointed to see that this building, owned by Shropshire Council.

"It was well used for offices just a few years ago; now completely empty with an ineffective heating system, crumbling stonework, and a bucket on the landing to catch water coming in through the ceiling.

"I don’t know why the building has been so sadly neglected and it was disappointing to see that the pharmacy has now gone, but I am determined that it becomes a place of employment again."