Sorry, Cullompton and Chard

...but Honiton is like a breath of fresh air, says businessman.

Shoppers who moan about lack of choice in Honiton town centre should take a trip to Cullompton or Chard.

That is the view of businessman Terry Farebrother, a former chairman of Honiton and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“Without wishing to offend people in Mid Devon and South Somerset, returning to Honiton from these towns is like a breath of fresh air,” he told the Midweek Herald.

Mr Farebrother, a former supervisor of Honiton’s ancient street market, was responding to comments made following a decision - by Honiton Town Council and business leaders - not to take part in a Government-backed competition spearheaded by retail guru Mary Portas.

He said: “It does not take a genius to revamp our High Street.

“The answer is that the car parking charges are too high.

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“If these charges were lower, it would encourage more people to visit the town centre and result in more shops opening, giving a better range for customers and thus revitalising the town.” Mr Farebrother added: “With the prospect of district councils keeping the business rates that they collect for the Government, it might make them more interested in the welfare of town centres.

“It should result in lower parking charges and, perhaps, even some free sessions at certain times.

“Town centres would then be able to compete with out-of-town stores on a more level playing field.”

l Seaton and Exmouth are preparing bids to become Portas Pilot towns. However, there are too few empty shops in Honiton to make a bid viable.