THERE has been good news for shoppers as latest figures have revealed there are fewer empty shops in Barnsley than the national and regional average.

Not only are more shops trading in the town centre than elsewhere, but more of them are independents - meaning the town has a more varied selection of stores.

"I believe the reason we don’t suffer from empty shop blight is because we're not another clone town offering exactly the same as every other," said Cllr Roy Miller.

"Not only is our market an amazing asset, it provides a huge amount of choice, as does our high street."

Over the past month five units held by Barnsley Council in the main retail area of the town centre have been let. The council has also reviewed empty units under the old Central Offices, which are due to be demolished as part of the markets redevelopment, and two of the larger units on May Day Green have been offered for short-term lease.

The council says this will not impede the redevelopment, but it will help satisfy demand for new premises.

One of the new tenants, Chris Barton, who runs Barnsley Pet Supplies on May Day Green, will also be occupying the largest unit, the former Quit Shop, selling household goods.

"In a difficult economic market, Barnsley Council has given me the confidence to grow my businesses," he said.

What do you think to the town centre's selection of shops? Have your say below.