HUNDREDS of residents believe improving local shops is the most urgent issue across the district.

A total of 19 per cent of Braintree and Witham residents chose local shops as one of the nine issues which needs improving the most.

The survey by think tank Demos asked 20,000 adults in parliamentary constituencies across Great Britain to choose which one of nine issues.

Shops was closely followed by good transport services at 18 per cent and premises to support local jobs at 13 per cent.

This mirrored the national picture, with the same three issues also the most pressing across Britain.

The survey also asked people how happy they are with what is currently on offer in the area.

In Braintree, an estimated 27 per cent of residents think that the provisions of facilities they consider most important is nearer to 'bad' than 'good'.

This is also the case in Witham where 26 per cent have the same view.

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Demos said prioritising retailers was particularly prevalent in more built-up areas, while rural communities were more likely to see a lack of quality transport as a problem.

The think-tank has urged the Government to reflect on its research as it considers how best to spend the £4.8 billion earmarked for a levelling-up fund to reduce inequality across the UK.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised a levelling-up White Paper in the recent Queen's Speech – to be unveiled later this year – saying it would "turbocharge" economic recovery nationwide.