A TRADER says he has been forced to close his Northwich shop after just nine months because of the state of the town centre.
Dave Hodkinson said he was losing thousands of pounds a month keeping The Kitchen Garden open in Weaver Square Shopping Centre.
He said some days he would take as little as £30 over the counter and feared that keeping it open threatened the future of his original business, Acton Bridge Garden Centre.
"I'm losing £2,000 a month and it's putting huge pressure on the garden centre," he said.
"It cost £15,000 to set the shop up and I've lost £18,000 since I opened – the only months I made any money were November and December.
"The shop was there to improve the garden centre business but it's put it right back on the back foot and put it in a difficult position."
Dave blamed the state of Weaver Square Shopping Centre for the shop's failure.
"How can you spend £20million on the new Hayhurst Quay, £15million on the new Memorial Court across the road and £5million on road improvements and have the entrance to Northwich as a shopping centre full of empty shops that's not been decorated for years?" he said.
"It's horrible, it's not fit for purpose."
The troubled centre went into receivership in August 2012 when Nationwide Building Society called in receivers Colliers International to take over its management from owners, Weaver Square Investments Ltd.
Dave criticised how it was being run at Northwich Town Council's April meeting, saying he felt it had been abandoned by Nationwide, Colliers and landlord Cheshire West and Chester Council, in a bid to prompt action.
"Nothing has been done in nine months and I can't see it getting any better," Dave said.
"I was going to hold on until Christmas but I'm losing too much money."
Dave now fears that because he signed a five-year lease he will still be paying for the shop for the next four years.
"Basically I'm liable to pay rent, rates and utility bills for the next four years," he said.
"Unless you're released from your lease you're classed as the legal owner."
Colliers International declined to comment.