A SENIOR Government minister has hailed Worcester's High Street in the commons - urging it to go for glory.

Local Government minister Penny Mordaunt has congratulated Worcester on being a finalist in the 'Great British High Street' competition, and wants it to compete for first place next year.

After competing with 135 other towns and cities around the UK it made the final shortlist of 21, mainly based on how well it bounced back from the floods in February.

Worcester MP Robin Walker praised the city's retailers in parliament, saying they are looking forward to the £1,500 discount off business rates next year promised in the autumn statement.

He said: "Small independent shops are the lifeblood of our high streets.

"I am glad to say, with Christmas just around the corner, that Worcester’s independent retailers say they are seeing increased footfall and are looking forward to their £1,500 discount on business rates next year.

"Will (Mrs Mordaunt) confirm that reforming business rates and discounts to small businesses can, alongside cuts to job taxes, help small businesses drive the economic recovery?"

She said said Mr Walker was "absolutely right" in his view on the importance of shops, and took the chance to praise Worcester.

"May I take this opportunity to congratulate Worcester on being a finalist in the 'Great British high Street' competition," she said.

"In addition to the discount he mentioned, the autumn statement also doubled small business rate relief for a further year and maintained the two per cent cap on the inflation increase for next year.

"I am sure that all those things will help Worcester potentially to take the prize next year."

The praise comes at a time when Worcester continues to buck regional and national trends for retail.

Data for 2014 reveals how the city centre is proving a major success story, with empty units at their lowest in years after a surge in interest from independent traders and big name brands.

Just 9.5 per cent of Worcester's retail units are empty, 67 out of 702, compared to a West Midlands average of 13 per cent and national average of just over 10 per cent.

Worcester is also one of only two towns or cities in the entire region - the other being Solihull - which has not suffered a decline in the number of shops since January after the city benefited from a raft of new stores.

A co-ordinated effort to help Worcester's shops recover from February's floods was led by the city's Business Improvement District (BID).