PUP candidate Russell Watton said it ‘breaks his heart’ to walk down Church Street in Coleraine.
The Coleraine man was speaking as part of a debate hosted by Causeway Chamber on Friday.
He said that if elected, he and his party would reduce out of town shopping through a ‘renewed emphasis on town led regneration’.
Watton pointed to the number of coffee shops and charity shops in Coleraine town centre and blamed pedestrianisation for the ‘ruination of the town’.
As part of the debate the issue of business rates was raised, with many candidates commenting that a review was necessary.
Leo Mullan from Causeway Enterprise Agency asked for a commitment from the candidates to support start up businesses.
Glyn Roberts from NI Retail Trade Association, who also attended the debate, said that under the new mandidate at Stormont a Northern Ireland Town Team would be set up, to look at regnerating town centres.
DUP candidate Adrian McQuillan stressed: “We may all be political rivals but we are all here to better our area. I have no problem in working with anyone else to benefit this area.”
David Harding of the NI Conservatives added: “People have this impression that politicians are self serving, but we are here because we want to help,” he said.