LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn is to announce “radical” plans to boost Bolton’s town centres and “revive Britain’s struggling high streets” in bid to bring the area’s towns back to their thriving best.

The leader of the opposition will visit Bolton tomorrow and will take a tour of the high street ahead of a Labour party rally at the University of Bolton Stadium.

There it is expected he will announce new plans to give councils the powers to reopen abandoned shops left empty for more than 12 months.

Mr Corbyn said: “Boarded up shops are a symptom of economic decay under the Conservatives and a sorry symbol of the malign neglect so many communities have suffered.

“Once thriving high streets are becoming ghost streets.

“Labour has a radical plan to revive Britain’s struggling high streets by turning the blight of empty shops into the heart of the high street, with thousands of new businesses and projects getting the chance to fulfil their potential.”

Andrew Gwynne MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, described the current high street climate as “retail apocalypse”

He added that Labour’s proposals will “give local authorities the power to make our high streets the pride of our communities that they once were.”

In recent months Bolton has lost several of its big name high street stores and outlets including Toys R Us, Costa Coffee, Starbucks and Lush.

The town have also seen several of its independent shops close their doors, such as Glamour Bridal and Overlord Militaria.

Many town centre retail units are currently sitting vacant and boarded up, among them the former BHS store in Victoria Square and parts of the former Beales department store.

However Bolton Council has unveiled its own proposals to regenerate the town centre with its masterplan.

The £1.2 billion scheme sets out five key intervention areas of Crompton Place shopping centre, the Church Wharf development, the Croal Valley residential and retail district, a 400 residential unit-space at Cheadle Square, and the hundreds of homes and office space in the Trinity Quarter.

Specific funds will be further made available for the district town centres of Farnworth, Horwich, Westhoughton and Little Lever.

Responding to Mr Corbyn’s proposals, the deputy leader of Bolton Council and executive member for development and regeneration, Councillor Martyn Cox, lambasted the Labour leader, claiming he has “spent his whole political life in opposition to businesses”.

He added: “Corbyn’s plan to support the high street is both woeful in its content and its understanding of the millions of people who work hard to make their businesses a success.

“Rather than proposing solutions to problems of retailers, a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn poses an existential threat to their very existence.”

Nationally, research shows that over 10 per cent of town centre shops are empty.

Analysis of the retail market by the Local Data Company found that high street vacancies jumped to 11.5 per cent last year. Of these empty units, 4.8 per cent of high street spaces have been vacant for over two years, rising to 5.8 per cent in shopping centres.

To combat the issue Labour has created a town centre regeneration policy, at the heart of which is a “Five Point Plan” to turn high streets around. This suggests:

1. Banning ATM charges and stopping bank branch and Post Office closures

2. Improvements to bus services and providing free bus travel for under 25s

3. Delivering free public Wi-Fi in town centres

4. Establishing a register of landlords of empty shops in each local authority

5. Introducing annual revaluations of business rates, ensure a fair appeals system and review the business rates system.