A TOWN centre businessman is calling for more support as the number of empty stores stacks up.

Bilal Yasin, partner of Learn Me currency exchange, says firms need more support to be able to survive.

As reported by the Daily Echo the High Street has faced a turbulent few months.

Two Bournemouth shoe shops are set to close in the latest blow for the retail sector.

This has coincided with the announced closure of House of Fraser and the loss of M&S in Commercial Road earlier this year.

From the entrance to Learn Me on Old Christchurch Road at least half a dozen empty units can be seen.

Mr Yasin said he thinks business rates are having a big impact on many of the store closures.

“We have been here for three years and all you seem to see is a store come and then go, especially the smaller stores,” he said.

“I think it is to do with the business rates. The place opposite has been advertised with six months free rent for a long time, but the rates on it are incredible.

“If you walk down the road there are empty spots all over.

“I speak to a lot of business people and when I say they should come to town they say they do not want to be here because the rates are so high and the rent is through the roof.

“It is difficult for the council and I know there is only so much that can be done, but something to lower the rates would really help.”

Mr Yasin said his rates are 50 per cent of his rent.

He added that he feels like footfall is used against businesses to make them pay more, when numbers are falling. Over the last year he has found empty units have increased and this summer has been quieter than 12 months ago.

“As a business you don’t want empty premises around you. Ideally you would have a range of different businesses,” he added.

“We picked this area because there were other travel agents and currency exchanges, but if every shop starts closing people are going to stop coming here. There is obviously a problem.

“Bournemouth is a nice town and there is a lot of investment around the seafront. Why can’t they cut back the rates just a little to promote business?”

“It is just a case of helping people to get on.”