BOURNEMOUTH town centre now has over 50 empty retail units as more businesses are struggling in the area.

Beales recently announced it had gone into administration and Monsoon, on Old Christchurch Road, also closed last month.

The manager of Main News in The Triangle, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “There’s definitely more empty units all over Bournemouth.

“I think it is very expensive to park in Bournemouth. It’s hard once you start losing the big names. It is very sad.”

When asked what needed to be done to help businesses in Bournemouth, the manager said: “They could cut rates. Invest in the town.

“Bournemouth is faceless. We need something that people want to come to other than the beach.

“The rates don’t make it attractive for businesses.”

Many of the units are available to let through agents such as Goadsby, Ellis & Partners and Nettleship Sawyer.

Steve Chiari, director of Nettleship Sawyer, said: “We’ve reduced prices, but it’s not just about reducing rent.

“There is not the demand there was when I started out 30 or 40 years ago.

“You used to celebrate if you got instructions for a place in Bournemouth town centre, you don’t want them now.

“Rents have dropped 10 per cent in pedestrianised sections. Nobody used to ask about rates, now they all do. But it’s not just the council it’s central government.”

Debenhams in Bournemouth had recently been saved from the axe despite 19 more of the company’s stores closing this month.

House of Fraser also went into administration, and their store on Old Christchurch Road was earmarked for closure under a previous rescue plan. But when Sports Direct bought the company out of administration, Mike Ashley said he would keep open as many stores as possible.

Shoppers in the high street expressed their sadness at the decline of the town, as many were making the most of the closing down sale in Beales.

Michael Diffey, 58, said: “We have always lived here and seen all these shops shut. It’s terrible.

“I don’t know how (the shops) survived anyway.”

Another customer, who decided to stay anonymous, said: “It’s bad. Everything is closing here now. The town is very empty, compared to what it was four or three years ago.”

The government announced in the 2018 budget that business rates for retailers would be cut by a third for retailers with a rateable value of £51,000. In the Queen’s speech the government said they would increase this to 50 per cent.

They have also said that over the course of 2020, they will be investing “hundreds of millions into projects to transform town centres.”

The first 100 places to benefit from £25 million each from the £3.6 billion towns fund were announced in the summer and Bournemouth were in that list.

High streets minister, Jake Berry, said: “This government is levelling up towns and regions, ensuring prosperity and opportunity are available to everyone.

“We’re slashing business rates for small retailers by 50 per cent, providing business rates support worth £13 billion over the next five years.

“We’re also investing £3.6 billion through the towns fund to help town centres including Bournemouth to adapt, evolve and thrive.”

A spokesperson for BCP Council, said revitalising high streets across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole is a key priority.

They added they will continue to work with their partners to seek “innovative and sustainable ways of bringing investment into the three towns.’’