03:20AM, Friday 27 September 2013
In 2011, the government introduced legislation which gave councils the power to offer discounts on business rates, as part of efforts to stimulate the economy.
The Royal Borough initially held back from doing this as they wanted to assess the risks.
But at a meeting of the council’s cabinet last night, councillors approved plans to open consultation.
The borough currently has 54 of its 1,234 shops empty.
The proposal has financial implications for the borough. If all 54 empty shops claimed a 50 per cent discount in business rates the council would lose out on £320,000 a year.
Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Maidenhead Riverside) said: "It would be useful to ask if there are any shops we would like to see in the area. This would telegraph to chains and entrepreneurs there is a concrete opportunity.
"We are prepared to put taxpayers money into bringing these empty units into operations."
Cllr MJ Saunders (Con, Bisham and Cookham) said: "Any fiscal incentive process is open to abuse. We would be stupid not to expect it but we need to find a way to get the biggest bang for our buck."
He said the consultation would minimise the chance of exploitation and maximise the chances of economic gain.