BBC Politics show Question Time was filmed in Bridgwater last week, and featured Jacob Rees-Mogg, Bridget Phillipson, Danny Sriskandarajah, Paul Johnson, and Juliet Samuel.

Bridgwater Town Council has recently responded to a comment made during the live broadcast which stated half of all shops in Bridgwater are empty and unoccupied.

The local council published figures from the British Retail Consortium detailing the national averages for empty shops across Britain in the first quarter of 2023.

  • The High Street vacancy rate was 13.8%
  • Shopping centre store vacancies was 17.8%
  • Retail Park vacancies were 8.7%. (British Retail Consortium, 2023).

Bridgwater town centre was found to be well below the national average for store vacancy rates.

"Bridgwater town centre has around 200 shops and around 15 are vacant equating to a 7.5% vacancy rate," explained a town council spokesperson.

"Bridgwater Town Council, formerly Sedgemoor District Council, Bridgwater Town Team along with the Bridgwater Town Deal and Bridgwater Retail group, part of Bridgwater Chamber of Commerce has all recognised the difficulties on the High Street.

"These organisations have had funding and continue to fund positive events which overall have improved Bridgwater Town Centre.

"There is funding available for new and existing businesses to help with the shop front in the form of a grant from Bridgwater Town Team.

"The Friday market has been increasing steadily, and the Bridgwater Food Festival now runs four times a year along with the independent market on Sundays throughout the year. 

"More events are planned for 2024 with funding from Bridgwater Town Deal.

"This is an exciting time to be living in Bridgwater."