New Labour leader makes regeneration vow

Empty shops are a major issue which needs tackling in Ilkeston, traders were told by the new opposition leader on Erewash Borough Council.

Labour councillor Alex Phillips met the town’s Chamber of Trade and said regeneration would be his main priority on the borough council.

At the meeting on Friday, he told them he is working on policies to help the economy and felt compulsory purchase of empty premises should be ‘a last resort’.

But he added: “If a shop has been empty for ten or 15 years, the argument for leaving it for another ten years is a bit thin.”

Chamber chairman Sharon Flint told him: “This is the most positive thing we have had at this meeting for many years. We are desperate for somebody to show an interest in regenerating Ilkeston.”

The new Labour group leader is aged 29. Tony Thorniley of the Lower Bath Street Association hoped he would provide ‘a new direction’.

Mr Thorniley added: “I welcome the input by a younger person. We want constructive approaches towards getting things done.”

He said there had been a feeling the council would oppose free parking simply because it had been suggested by traders.

Chamber president David Thorpe also said he was disappointed nothing had been done to develop a site of former public toilets on the corner of South Street and Derby Road.

The toilet block was shut and demolished. Plans were approved for a shop but the site has been cleared and boarded up. Mr Thorpe said: “This is an entrance to the town.”