BRENTFORD'S struggling shopkeepers say they are being forced out by high rents and declining footfall.
Business owners are calling for landlords to be more responsible as shops have little choice but to close down, leaving Brentford resembling a ghost town.
Aswin Patel, owner of Adnam’s Newsagent, in Brentford High Street, said: “The issue is that when we agreed the rent three or more years ago, the prices were fine.
“However, as the recession has got worse we are not making the same profits and therefore we cannot afford to pay the same rent that we agreed then. Adjusting the rents would help independent shops along the high street survive.”
Mr Patel said independent shops are particularly badly affected by the high rents, as they do not have the same resources as larger chain shops who can afford advertising.
Over the past few weeks, art shop Lleixa and opticians Fantaseyes both closed.
A shop manager, who did not want to be named, said: “I don’t know how much longer this shop can stay open, we are losing money every day. I honestly don’t think things can get better. If people want food they go to Morrisons, or they don't come to Brentford at all.”
Andrew Dakers, Brentford steering group member, said he wanted to see landlords decreasing rents so businesses could cope in the difficult economic times.
He added: “I think there is every potential for Brentford high street to have a wonderful future, but we should be helping businesses through the hard times.”
Brentford councillor Ruth Cadbury said: “It is a really difficult time for all high streets.
“I don’t think Brentford is unique in having shops closing and finding it hard, but things haven’t been made any easier with all the problems with Thames Water.
“The road being closed for repair has hardly helped things."
She added the council was working on several initiatives to help boost footfall on the high street including sprucing up shop fronts, introducing a regular market and pushing for compensation from Thames Water for lost trade caused by the recent burst water mains.