The revelation that traders in Swindon were among the worst affected by the Covid pandemic and lockdowns prompted readers to highlight the fact that the town centre was already struggling when it hit.

Centre for Cities research showed stores lost the equivalent of 28 weeks of trading over the past two years and only Exeter and Bristol fared worse in the south west.

The borough council is hoping £100m of investment in a regeneration scheme will give the area a new lease of life.

Readers were doubtful. Here's what they had to say...

Denise Rawlings: "Was like that before!"

Andrew Little: "No can't see current plans making it turn the corner. Was going down hill rapidly before the pandemic hit, so what's changed."

Rob Owen: "I'm surprised it's only a fifth to be honest, the place looks bare."

Rachel Sellens: "What's that another cheap mobile case shop and vape store?"

Louise Ricobi: "Nothing to do with pandemic, it was like it before."

Caroline Cabrita: "The fifth of shops were vacant before Covid hit.

"I’ve noticed that Commercial Rd derelict shops are growing after the pandemic. But the town centre itself is really sad and dismal."

Richard Balch: "Knock the Brunel down and knock down what was newly built and build a new shopping centre with all top names.

Keep the shops that have always been the town centre landmarks.

Knockdown the Debenhams building along with the former Allied Dunbar building that is on top.

Put Tescos into morrisons so it gives them bigger space.

The Brunel was good at its time when it was built but its now past its sell by date. I think someone needs to pull these Council planners and take them to the Cities like Exeter or Bristol or Birmingham and show them what Swindon needs.

Put the shops that are £1 shops up in Gorsehill

Coffee shops could be put in a food hall in the new shopping centre.

Those closed bars/pubs change into apartments

If I didn't live in Swindon I wouldn't choose to come to this town as there's nothing here like it use to be."

Julian Smith: "The council can't do it because the council own very little of the town centre. Brunel is owned by commercial property company, as is Regent's Circus."

Amy Brown: "Vape shops, pound shops, polish supermarkets, seasonal shops, phone shops.

Nobody want anymore of these!

Being decent high street shops, affordable ones not like Flannels that only millennials with no bills can afford, and then a difference can potentially be made.

Combined with the markets that are due to come back to town, after the council made the stupid decision years back that street traders were no longer allowed!

Until this change is made, we will continue to travel to Bristol/Bath/Reading/Birmingham etc for our shopping."