A TOWN'S MPs are calling for work to be done to rejuvenate its high street.

Alex Cunningham, MP for Stockton North, and James Wharton, MP for Stockton South, have made the pleas to help improve Stockton's High Street after it came under fire at a planning meeting earlier this month.

Councillor Bob Gibson said Stockton's main street was beyond redemption as councillors discussed their fears that further development at nearby Teesside Park could finish off the town centre.

Now Mr Cunningham and Mr Wharton are urging people to focus on the town centre in an attempt to bring it back to life.

The council is focused on ensuring that we regenerate Stockton High Street and on making sure it is the hub of our town for future generations, said Mr Cunningham. No-one wants to see shops boarded up and our town centre run down.

He added: "I do not want to see anymore soulless out-of-town developments which are harmful to our historic town centres.

"If we focus on regenerating the High Street, businesses will be drawn to invest in our town centre.

"Without that focus from local politicians there is no doubt the High Street will continue to go downhill."

Mr Wharton added: "Everyone should work together on Stockton's High Street. It has been in decline for many years.

"For the people of Stockton we should all re-focus our efforts and have a real debate on it to come up with some workable solutions."

A row over the state of the High Street broke out after members of Stockton Borough Councils planning committee discussed plans for a 66-bed Travelodge, a Nandos restaurant and Harvester pub on the site of the former Springs leisure centre, at Teesside Park.

A number of councillors raised concerns that little was being done to improve the fortunes of the High Street.

Mr Cunningham believes the committee was right to turn the application down whereas Mr Wharton believes fears about the High Street is not a good enough reason to turn down investment elsewhere.

The town centre has suffered because of the economic downturn and figures show 16 per cent of its shops are empty.

The closure of the Woolworths store two years ago was followed by the departure of other familiar names, including the Swallow Hotel, Littlewoods and Ethel Austin and McDonald's.