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We need MPs to be full of ideas for empty town centres

Lauren Ferguson owns womenswear stores Sisters Boutique and Fergie in Falkirk. Sisters is Drapers’ current Young Fashion Independent of the Year.

Lauren Ferguson, owner of two clothing shops, 'Sisters' and 'Fergie' in Falkirk, Scotland

Lauren Ferguson: ‘You don’t have to look hard to see what is wrong with town centre models’

For the SNP to do as well as they did in the election was not progress. Divisive politics is not the way ahead – Scotland is nothing without the UK.

Nicola Sturgeon and her cronies now need to step up to the plate and finally deliver and stop blaming Westminster for all of Scotland’s problems. It is easy to blame someone else, and we all blame the weather, the economy and the public’s love of online shopping for the reason our tills are empty, but to be successful in this game it is 99% hard work and 1% luck.

Remaining British and in the union was a massive issue for me, but none of the parties have helped me as a small business owner. The SNP brought in rates rebates, but rates in Falkirk are so high we can’t qualify for the discounts to really help us. I hope the new MPs start to look at the reasons why town centres are empty – starting with business rates.

I can rent a shop for free for a five-year period but the rates are £80,000 per year. There is no free parking and the town centre is pedestrianised, yet the retail park on the edge of town is car-friendly and has free parking. You don’t have to look hard to see what is wrong with town centre models.

I’ve spent my time shouting about this to council employees who have meeting after meeting and nothing ever gets done. Until my local MP listens and helps businesses like me, then I will remain of the opinion that one is as bad as the other. Empty shops in Falkirk are now at a ridiculously high level and the quality of the stores we have has gone downhill. People need a reason to visit a town.

I have sat on these committees and seen first-hand the ridiculous way they are run. Hopefully the future is bright in David Cameron’s hands. He is only halfway through a 10-year plan and, if suffering the SNP is the cost of staying part of the union, then I will accept that as long as they deliver and stop blaming Westminster – although I will still blame the weather.

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