JANUARY 25, 2012, a Welsh Assembly report called for action to help town centre businesses struggling to survive against out-of-town rivals.

A report published on Wednesday by the Welsh Assembly’s enterprise committee, and being launched in Caerphilly, concludes that throughout the country high streets are struggling to survive. It calls on the Welsh government to do more to boost town centres by reforming planning laws, helping independent traders take on out-of-town malls and finding a way to reduce business rates.

It says more flexible opening-times should be encouraged so that shoppers stay in town centres into the evening and suggests converting empty shops into homes.

Among these are weaknesses in planning law; the inquiry heard planners had little option but to give permission to out-of-town stores and centres. Councils said they could not afford to challenge supermarkets wanting to build new stores away from centres because of punitive legal costs.

Labour at Welsh Assembly level would be against any new development to the south of Blackwood. Any Labour councillor supporting development would go against a Labour government in Cardiff Bay.

Andrew Thomas Nutt, Heolddu Road, Bargoed