Prince Charles has stood in for his mum, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, to deliver the Queen’s Speech today.
It was great to see Birmingham getting a mention for the Commonwealth Games, with the monarch saying: “In this year of my Platinum Jubilee, I look forward to the celebrations taking place across the United Kingdom and throughout the Commonwealth, and to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer.”
Her speech marks the State Opening of Parliament and it contained details of 38 bills.
And included in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill - which involves “improving economic dynamism and innovation to drive growth across the whole country, unleashing the power of the private sector to unlock jobs and opportunity for all” - is plans to re-energise local high streets.
In particular the government has set out measures it believes will help to manage shop closures and the raft of empty stores across the country.
Birmingham has seen some high profile shop closures in recent months with Debenhams and Top Shop vacating the Bullring and John Lewis leaving Grand Central.
But the number of shops in the city has actually increased over the last decade, according to the local data company.
However since April 2017, Birmingham has seen 955 shops close across the city.
Armani Exchange, Forever 21 and Cadenza are another pair of Bullring casualties. Out of town Poundworld disappeared from The Fort and M&S quit Sutton Coldfield.
Yet, you may be surprised to learn that there have also been 903 shop openings in Birmingham between April 2017 and April 2022.
This means that there are just 52 less shops in Birmingham today than there were five years ago - a 3.05% change.
But that doesn’t change the fact that several key units in the city centre remain empty.
What plans are there to help ailing high streets in the Queen’s Speech?
The plans unveiled today include measures to force landlords in England to let empty shops in a bid to rejuvenate high streets.
Under the move buildings left vacant for a year would have to be entered into a "rental auction".
What do Brummies think about the empty shops in Birmingham?
BirminghamWorld recently spoke to local people about the empty shopping units across the city and they came up with a wealth of ideas for how they could be used.
This included converting them into office spaces or apartments to help ease the housing crisis, serving free food and drink to help homeless people, used for social activities or a new way should be found to encourage more people to use the shops.
You can see the full set of comments in our video at the top of this story. Please get in touch and let us know what you think too.
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