Landlords have been accused of taking advantage of the status of those town centres picked as Portas Pilots by pushing up the sale price of vacant shops.

The Mayor of Liskeard in Cornwall has accused the sellers of “gratuitous greed and insensitivity” for trying to force up property prices when small retailers are already struggling to pay high rents.

Liskeard in Cornwall is one of the 12 areas chosen to trial recommendations made by self-styled retail guru Mary Portas, who was commissioned by the Government to help boost struggling high streets.

Since Government revealed Liskeard was on the list of chosen town centres, two landlords of empty shops that have been on the market for some time have increased the asking price for their properties. An owner of one shop has increased the askign price from £275,000 to £300,000.

Liskeard’s mayor Tony Powell told the Daily Telegraph: “They are trying to take advantage of this. They will get knocked back straightaway. But it does seem to me an act of gratuitous greed and insensitivity. It’s horrible.

“Success breeds success and there are always people who will try to jump on the back of it and make something out of it.”

Powell said he doubts the sellers will get their asking prices.

Liskeard plans to use the £100,000 Government cash to turn empty shops into art venues and plans to redecorate pubic toilets.