A BUSINESSMAN believes more can be done to support independent retailers in Bishop Auckland.

Don McCabe was forced to close his Newgate Street video game shop Chips in March, due to a lack of trade.

The 56-year-old feels Durham County Council should be protecting smaller businesses and he blames the out-of-town shopping site in St Helen Auckland for the decrease in footfall in the town centre.

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However, council officers said they are actively working with retailers to make positive changes.

Mr McCabe said: "Nobody goes into the centre of town anymore because the supermarkets have forced all the small grocers and other independent retailers out.”

He also feels Durham County Council does not take the views and opinions of smaller shops and retailers as importantly as those of the supermarket chains.

Kevin Lawson, 59, who runs Lawson's Butchers, on Newgate Street, said: "Lots of shops are being closed down in Bishop Auckland and the council doesn't seem to be doing anything. More needs to be done."

Chris Myers, regeneration projects manager with Durham County Council, said: "We do recognise the important role that independent retailers have in the vitality and viability of the town centre.”

He added the council has revamped the Market Place and has been working on a number of schemes, including improvements to shop fronts.