HELP needs to be given to Glasgow's struggling high streets, the Deputy First Minister was told.

Sandra White, Kelvin SNP MSP, asked Nicola Sturgeon if the Scottish Government could offer any assistance to struggling shops and traders.

The call came after the Evening Times highlighted the plight of traders in High Street and parts of the Merchant City earlier this month.

Traders in High Street fear rent increases and tough new lease conditions are driving them out of business and have set up an association to defend themselves from the actions of their landlord, City Property.

The Evening Times has previously reported on the problems facing traders on Byres Road, where a spate of shop closures has led to a growing number of empty units.

Both cases were highlighted in questions to the Deputy First Minister in her role as cities and infrastructure minister, in the Scottish Parliament.

In High Street, businesses cited problems with rent rises, distant and unapproachable officials at City Property and delays in dealing with paperwork.

Concerns about the state of the buildings they rent, following decades of under-investment have also been raised.

Ms White, whose constituency includes both High Street and Byres Road, urged the council to take steps to improve the situation for traders.

She said: "The situation has seen many small businesses close.

She asked: "Does the cabinet secretary agree urgent action is needed by Glasgow City Council and its Aleo, City Property, which is under investigation, and will she meet with me and concerned parties to discuss the situation?"

Ms Sturgeon said the Government's Fresh Start scheme was designed to help areas where there was a high number of vacant properties.

Under the scheme new occupants of shops or offices that have been empty for at least a year are be able to apply for a 50% discount on their business rates for 12 months.

Ms Sturgeon said: "Town centres and high streets can be a significant component of local economies.

"I know from my own constituency also how many challenges high streets and town centres face now.

"Rates relief allows businesses breathing space and gives them a boost."

She said she would be happy to meet with the MSP and others to discuss town centres.