Every little dents

Councils ignoring the plight of independent traders.

Aren’t we lucky in having three levels of government looking after us and protecting our interests? Firstly, we have Devon County Council, hell bent on “investing” a considerable fortune on parking meters to clutter up the pavements and drive away shoppers.

Secondly, we have East Devon District Council, who see fit to refuse a planning application to alter the signage on a small shop, but see nothing wrong with wholly disproportional out of town retail stores. A big well done to East Devon District Council on allowing a few free hours parking on Saturday, December 18, but failing to grit the car parks so nobody could safely use them until after Christmas.

And last, but by no means least, Honiton Town Council, who are still ploughing their own furrow by insisting the only thing to do is to build a white elephant community centre on one of the town’s car parks, with money they don’t have. The irony of it all is Honiton Town Council taking their petition against parking meters to Devon County Council. I assume they will understand when it is ignored, as public opinion doesn’t count, as demonstrated by Honiton Town Council ignoring the overwhelming rejection of the community centre in last year’s poll. If Honiton Town Council was serious about the town’s best interests, it would take the money for the community centre and stick it in the parking meters.

It is very clear that Devon County Council and East Devon District Council have no interest whatsoever in protecting and promoting the economic viability and diversity of our towns. Indeed, it appears they are taking an active stance in ensuring every possible obstacle and hurdle is placed in the path of independent town centre traders, but bend right over for out of town multi-national retailers.

Tesco takes between �500,000 and �1m per day per store in the run-up to Christmas. Every pound spent in these stores is a pound taken out of the towns. Every little dents. If support and protection of independent town centre trading is not given priority then towns will become a parade of empty shops and disused parking meters. With nobody wanting to visit the empty shops, there will be no parking revenue. Free parking for two hours and cheap parking thereafter will give the town centre the support it needs. Extra revenues can come from out of town multi-nationals, who can afford rate hikes and perhaps a parking space tax?

I note that Tesco will be contributing towards the salary of a Town Centre Manager for Seaton. I would like to apply for that job, please, it will be very easy. There won’t be anything left in the town to manage.

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Tim Saunders