Peter Richardson - not a rushmoor resident?
Anyway, I've done some looking into this, and it does seem obsurd, in the costs to run a shop. We've had an entire area of a shopping centre completely empty for at least 5 years. Shops do occasionally open once in a while, but they never last.
the only shops that seem to stay are the bigger chains that do bring in enough to justify it, or just the ones who can bully the local council enough.
My suggestion would be to drop the rates/rent for these shops to a minimal amount (rather than stay at the extortionate rates they are now) and allow businesses to thrive. more shops mean more customers. More customers mean more profit... if a business is earning well, then they will stay and suddenly the council is making far more than they are now.... why is it so hard to see?