Successful town centres

Yesterday I wrote  about one way to get more customers into shopping centres. Today I will range more widely with suggestions for improving and modernising town centres.

Government does need to cut business rates on retail premises. It has done so for small retail businesses but not for the larger chains which represent a large part of the High Street. Rents are falling  and are likely to fall further as retail adjusts to the lower cost base and competitive prices of on line business.

The ratio of bars, restaurants, coffee shops and other food outlets to traditional shops has  to rise, as people want an experience beyond just buying goods. The High street can also be a good location for hairdressing, nail bars, health and fitness services and the rest where services are delivered by a person which could not be delivered by the internet.

The modern High Street does need traffic free areas with space for seats, displays, street markets, and events. A successful Town Centre is sustained by continuous promotion with festivals, seasonal events and pop up retail alongside the established retail. Anything which creates more footfall is good for the centre.

In some cases High streets are too extensive. There needs to be conversion of retail premises to residential or compatible other commercial uses. It should be made easy to change a retail planning permission into residential. Councils  need to give guidance and support, helping the town define  its shopping contour.

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  1. Posted August 19, 2019 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Towns have developed the doughnut effect- I live one mile from my town centre but very seldom go there- instead I can go one mile the other way and have all the free parking that I want at the huge supermarket shops- it’s all there on my doorstep hassle free- don’t know why we’re even talking about this again today- must be the silly season.

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 6:12 am | Permalink

      Got out of the wrong side of the bed this morning? This is the logical extension of yesterday and pulls together a good summation of what needs to be done.

      As usual there is little ‘how’. Councils need to be given/use existing compulsory purchase powers to aggressively acquire the freehold of properties to create an ‘estate’ that can then be sold to a developer rather than wait for umpteen head/sub leases to fall in.

      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

        JR, off topic but related to a previous blog of yours.

        Why has the Iranian tanker seized by U.K. Miliatary been allowed to go with oil on board?

        1. Could you answer the first question from your previous blog who ordered tha tankers seizure, the EU or unilaterally the U.K.

        2. Who authorised its release, the EU or the UK?

        3. Hasthe Tory govts capitulated again to a foreign monster?

        • Posted August 20, 2019 at 11:04 am | Permalink

          Many of us would like to know who in the UK authorised that act of piracy;although we know the instruction came from the USA,not the EU.

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 6:42 am | Permalink

      Councils via their town planning departments should get behind and assist anyone willing to invest in their area and needing planning permission. Most of the buildings that are listed and considered architectural gems did not come about as a result of the town planning system, they predate the entire town planning regime. Unfortunately, instead of helping developers and investors, councils as often as not do the reverse, and appear to feel they are on the five yard line trying to stop them scoring. Councils should prune the people in their town planning departments that don’t want to see one iota of change to the built environment in their lifetimes.

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      I live near to Bracknell which, as a user, I regard as a very well done recent regeneration very much on the lines Sir John describes. A much improved pedestrianised town centre (attractions: mechanical T-Rex, morris dancers, brass bands etc) but with ample multi-storey parking easily accessible around it.

      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

        morris dancers? – I think I’ll stay away.

  2. Posted August 19, 2019 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    Haven’t high streets had their day? Before them there were markets. Now there’s internet. They lasted less than 200 years. Isn’t it time to move on?

  3. Posted August 19, 2019 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    The world is changing as so too is the way in which we shop. The internet is taking over. People do not want to spend parts for their lives in a queue, whether it be for a car park space of to be served. Just click, pay and you’re done ! The high street simply cannot compete. High costs of rent, taxes and labour make this so. If I purchase something on the internet it might be to a company in another county whose cost are far lower. It is better not to interfere and just let it go. Let the market decide what survives or not. We never tried to save the Matchstick Girls or the Shoeshine Boys form the inevitable, why should anyone else be different ?

  4. Posted August 19, 2019 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    Indeed, in short get the government, the planning system, red tape of all descriptions and over the top taxation out of the way – as far as possible. Have a level playing field and let the market decide what customers want.

    Interesting to read about how churches are forced to use expensive lead on roofs which then gets repeatedly stolen. Why can they not be allowed to use cheaper and more modern materials that will not get stolen.

    This especially as the police seem to have largely given up on most such (trivial as they perhaps see it) crimes.

  5. Posted August 19, 2019 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    Come to Worcester and study a city moving in the right direction. It does not have all the answers as yet, but it is getting there.

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      Worcester is a very pleasant place intrinsically, so there are reasons other than shopping and other day-to-day business to be there..

      Many towns, are not, however.

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      Did they kick you out of Spain?

      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

        Silly boy. I’ll be back in Spain this time next week. Catch up with friends of all nationalities including Spanish. Do a bit of soaring , pay my taxes, revert to the spanish way of life, something I feel very comfortable with. Will make a point of keeping up with the diary so stay alert.

        • Posted August 20, 2019 at 1:09 am | Permalink

          Soaring! Gliders?

          • Posted August 20, 2019 at 6:14 am | Permalink

            Absolutely. Cloudbase around 12,000 feet more often than not in the season. Plenty of unrestricted airspace. Thermals of 5 metres a second or more and vultures to mark them. Above all else a very positve attitude to flying, no club committees fighting over the colour of the curtains in the control tower. I can get in more airtime in a week than friends in the UK manage in a year. The Germans and French flock to Spain during their annual holidays, but to date not many Brits. Flights of 1000 kms happen on a daily basis June to September. For a glider pilot Spain is a no brainer.

        • Posted August 20, 2019 at 1:12 am | Permalink

          Yes. Poor Andy. I live in Canada for much of the year. Perhaps little Andy has never gone further than Milton Keynes (or wherever) and thinks he/she is well-travelled.
          Spread your wings, Andy! There’s a big world out there, and it doesn’t end with the EU’s borders!

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      Worcester – a good clean-up, more flowers, less trees cut down and attention to the condition of listed buildings, and even the 1960 ones we’re stuck with – and I hope it ‘gets there’. People visit, and money is made, but the general condition of the place seems to be overlooked. (Even Queen Vic needs a wash.)

      Cast an eye above those bright new outlets – many buildings are very shabby. This no doubt is the same for other towns, though many have got it right and turned upstairs rooms into accommodation, and made their centres clean and attractive.

      It’s my old home town – sad to say, it now looks unkempt to me.

      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

        Many residents I know feel the same way about Worcester city centre. They prefer to drive out to nearby smaller towns (Droitwich, Pershore, Upton, Malvern) because those places are more attractive and well-kept, and parking is easier.

        I’ve no doubt that this is the same with other county towns – residents are prepared to drive further out to more agreeable places in which to spend their money. Many residents avoid the city centre completely.

      • Posted August 20, 2019 at 6:34 am | Permalink

        Queen Vic had a wash in fhe last month, all pristine and white now. The interchange between Worcester and the small towns you mention is two way traffic, everyone benefits. Had a very good Turkish meal in the city centre last Friday night, parking in a secure car park at Crowngate only cost £1.00 after 18.00 hrs for about three hours. Now there is an example of positive forward thinking to enhance business in the city centre.

  6. Posted August 19, 2019 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    And how about all the shops that have been turned into dwellings? Office blocks ditto?
    The shops that are too expensive to rent that have been given over to charity junk shops? Charities get get a discount on business rates I think?
    The powers that be have long been criticised for discouraging small businesses with huge rates etc and allowing big ones to dominate the high street.
    And having done that in usual myopic mole style they now find that many big chains have and are…going under. So many huge premises empty and boarded up. ( Oh except when they turn them into “pop up” hostels…helpfully over-filled by charities sending out train tickets and invites).
    Unfortunately the poor souls who come for shelter are then accused of begging etc by shoppers.
    With regards to parking I was under the impression that ( EU directive?) there is a move to totally ban cars from many towns. This might explain why parking is being made virtually impossible but it is hardly likely to help town centres.
    What about the traditional markets that have been shut down on highly spurious grounds by local councils? Funny how those sites often end up being built on.
    And how about the fact that in many places one just does not feel safe any more??
    Not terribly conducive to a nice day out in town.

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 6:34 am | Permalink

      I have never known a high street be “ too extensive”.
      Every shop turned into a house/flat is a resource lost.
      Locally however many businesses have closed because they have been undermined for at least 40 years by supermarkets.
      How did any govt think that small DIVERSE…interesting shops could survive ?
      A supermarket always sets out to destroy local business.
      At first it will supply everything that the local shops stock…from cars to tea towels.
      Inevitably the local shops can not compete with the supermarket’s prices. And then the supermarket just drops many of its lines.
      At first supermarkets ran free bus services to take people away from village stores.

      1980..neighbour coming out of nice local shop.
      “ Disgusting…their cornflakes are 2p dearer than the supermarket. I’m never shopping here again.”
      That local shop is now a house and the supermarket scarcely stocks anything and stopped its free bus service years ago.
      What price cornflakes??

    • Posted August 20, 2019 at 1:03 am | Permalink

      Not all charity shops are ‘junk shops’. This is terrible slur on those outlets that are as attractive as (and more so in some cases) than the incoming proprietors.

      I would suggest that in some places (Worcester, for example) attempts to make the city centre more attractive were blocked by a narrow-minded city council over the past five years or so.
      The street that is predominated by charity shops is one of the most attractive in Worcester. And I’m sure that is the case in other cities. They HAVE to make their shopfronts as attractive as others, to bring in the customers, they have a vested interest in doing so. And they do – and I have noticed this in other cities besides my own. Nicely presented, welcoming and with the added satisfaction that one is helping.

      Do you ever shop in local charity shops? I think not.

      • Posted August 20, 2019 at 8:41 am | Permalink

        I do shop in them though the problem with charity shops (indeed all charity) is that it does workers out of jobs and has volunteer workers instead, with ‘charity’ bosses and executives on top tier earnings.

        My charity is to spend the wages I’m lucky enough to earn locally, even if it costs me a bit more.

        We now have local churches opening coffee and cake mornings taking away local business from the cafes. Local sports clubs running bars with loose ‘visitor’ rules with volunteer barmen when the pubs are crying out for support – or they could at least give a local kid some paid part time work.

        I deliberately avoid these places – especially when the tired looking lead volunteer keeps badgering me to become a volunteer barman while I’m trying to have a pint on my rare day off.

  7. Posted August 19, 2019 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    In Kings Lynn, Norfolk, there was a walled, mediaeval town centre round the church for the Hanse League. Then it moved to the market place in the 1700s where the town centre stayed for a couple of centuries and the city walls were pulled down. Then, in the last century, the centre moved to round the bus station area. Today it is out of town with huge malls in the commercial area.
    Things change over the centuries.
    We are witnessing just such a change.
    And life goes on.

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      Yes, and there we see the endless parades of McDonalds, Burger King, Starbucks, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Frankie and Benny’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Pizza Hut and the rest, as we do in almost every other town in this country, indeed, across large areas of the whole planet. And the multiplexes, all showing the same Hollywood tripe.

      Ant yet some people whimper that it is the European Union, which is “destroying national character”.

      Really? I don’t see many Roman piazzas or Spanish haçiendas springing up here and there, do you?

      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

        Martin in Cardiff

        God forbid that customers should be allowed to buy what they want eh… The politburo say no. Its turnip week. Do you want it boiled or fried

        I know of loads of Italian restaurants in England. We have also adopted a more continental approach to street cafes too ( a good thing) .

        It is a really stupid analogy to compere Italian town squares or large estate or plantations with a dwelling house to town centre take away food shops.

        Most shopping malls have taken on the concept of a central piazza as a seating/meeting area

        • Posted August 19, 2019 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

          I am referring to the endemic *uniformity* across many countries, which is nothing whatsoever to do with the European Union, but everything to do with US globalism.

          You knew that anyway though, so instead address points that I clearly was not making.

          There’s a name for that.

          • Posted August 20, 2019 at 8:04 am | Permalink


            Try actually reading my posts rather than make it up.. theres a name for that

            I never mentioned the EU

            I answered your rant about fast food by pointing out, one it works because people WANT IT , two there are plenty of other options too. Its one of the features of an open and free market

        • Posted August 19, 2019 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

          Martin will choose what food outlets will be allowed.
          He knows what is best for us.
          We will have a referendum on the issue but because we are less well educated than him he will decide for us.

          • Posted August 20, 2019 at 2:35 am | Permalink

            Martin is a Liberal, therefore of COURSE he knows what’s best for us!

          • Posted August 20, 2019 at 1:37 pm | Permalink


      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

        Strange, Cardiff has a number of restaurants any of which I am happy to visit. Worcester has Thai (3), Chinese, Indian, Bangladeshi,Italian,, Turkish, Japanese, as well as a range of excellent pubs.

        Yes we also have a range of what you abhore and have little attraction for me. The main point is that we have choice and the customer decides what will survive or not. If we end up with a glut of US franchises the customers have decided. They are the final arbiter so blame them.

        • Posted August 20, 2019 at 7:11 am | Permalink

          Only a fool would try to make out that my post was primarily about taste in dining.

          It was obviously about uniformity and the loss of national character, which is almost entirely down to US globalist corporatism, but nothing whatsoever to do with the European Union.

          • Posted August 20, 2019 at 11:13 am | Permalink

            Twaddle as usual Martin.
            These businesses thrive and expand simpky because customers like them.
            Odd how the left automatically hate everything from America.

          • Posted August 20, 2019 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

            So you would advocate we should indulge in Brusselization?

          • Posted August 20, 2019 at 4:30 pm | Permalink


            Rather than display your anti US bias you ought to get out more

            If you look around the high street there are plenty of other food outlets, restaurants and bistros from small independents to large non US chains

            From independent fish and chip shops ( despite your ludicrous claim that the English dont eat fish )

            The ubiquitous Curry House and Chinese restaurants, Italian and other ethnic outlets

            Oh and by the way Chiquito Frankie & Benny’s Garfunkel’s
            & Wagamama are all owned by an English company

            The problem with socialists is they dont live in the real world

            ps no one mentioned the EU in this context, why keep bringing it up are you on a troll quota?

          • Posted August 20, 2019 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

            Martin in Cardiff

            By the way Nandos is South African , oh and Pret a Manger is now owned by a German company Caffe Nero is English, Costa Coffee and Greggs are also English. Hmm seems that you theories dont quite stack up Martin

  8. Posted August 19, 2019 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Expensive rents, discouraging business rates, unfair internet trading, boring larger chains with identical stock in every town, independents giving up, poor expensive parking with Stasi wardens…..not a positive outlook, unless you want to look at estate agent windows, wander through charity shops and get a coffee while keep an eye on your parking time.

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      Local councils are eager for revenue. Hence parking charges and new traffic regulations which are really designed to generate a big income from fines.

      In many ways councils are a major part of the problem.

      Clone High Streets and vacant premises may not inspire either.

      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 12:11 pm | Permalink


        Absolutely right, the public sector is now a major revenue collecting scam. Services get poorer yet taxes, fines and regulatory licences go up and up. Same with speeding fines, nothing to do with road safety all about revenue

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      Fred H

      There is NOTHING unfair about internet trading. Unless you seriously think that easy of use and lower prices are a bad thing

      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

        I do actually. It results in bulk buying driving individuals out of business, difficult quality checking, no look and feel of products (unless you still find a shop to check – get the irony?), high streets becoming boarded up graffiti parades, excessive delivery packaging, multiples of delivery journeys. Whats to like?

        • Posted August 20, 2019 at 8:11 am | Permalink

          Fred H

          You do know that when you get the product you can look feel try on and if not happy send back… Multiple delivery journeys? you mean one van delivering 100 parcels rather than 100 vehicles driving to a shop and then driving around looking for a shop that has what they want in their size and colour ….oh the irony indeed Try innovating and competing then. Businesses go out of business because they dont offer what people want

          In what brainless world you thing internet shopping causes graffiti Ive no idea, but as the owner of a high street retail space I can tell you graffiti has been endemic long before online

          Whats to like? Well unless you are pretty stupid, ease of use, ability to purchase EXACTLY what you want, ability to rate and review the supplier, lower cost less traffic congestion, the ability to open new retail businesses without vast unproductive over heads . Doh

  9. Posted August 19, 2019 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    The “High Street” in my local town, the result of now long gone day-trip & weekly/forthrightly holiday makers to the town, wasn’t extant 150 years ago, although the residential areas of the town had expanded significantly by then, what buildings did exist along these two main streets were mostly residential or pubs, plus a couple of churches – today the de-facto ‘High Street’ is were the big supermarkets, DIY, White Goods and fast-fit/motor accessory retailers, gyms etc. are sited and it now even has a pub/carvery! As people who, broadly, support the free market, why are so many Conservatives concerned about the fate of the “High Street”, from what I can see the High Street is alive and well, just not located were it was 40 years ago – or for that matter 150 years ago!

    Those retailers and residents, in far more need of Govt. support, are those in the outlying residential areas of towns and villages, what with the onward trend in lost pubs, sub Post Offices, banks, and even the general/convenience store etc. This is were the real problems lie – but then ‘those who live in villages vote Tory what ever’, well they might have done so in the past…

    My point; Are we simply to obsessed with the “High Street”, as if it is some living museum that needs to be preserved, but without any real valid reason too do so – there will always be the specialist shops, nail bars, restaurants etc that will thrive within a town location, as they do in the USA, but the trend is to retail parks and US style shopping malls.

  10. Posted August 19, 2019 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    The ideal town centre is a mix of commercial, large and small, with living quarters – It should have a focal point, but mostly it should be welcoming to all, and accessible.

    St Ives in Cambridge is small, but they have gone some way, by example, of creating a suitable, and attractive centre.

  11. Posted August 19, 2019 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    The building of a beautiful church in the town centre might help the feeling
    of civic pride. Those doing well in their lives could give thanks to the Almighty;
    maybe those in more distressed circumstances could find succour from a
    magnificent interior that is open to all. The same goes for the city. Where is
    your Christopher Wren, Canary Wharf? Where is your Sacre-Coeur?

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 12:14 pm | Permalink


      Presumably you would also want a mosque a synagog , a hindu temple and a Buddhist temple too?

      Actually there is nothing less likely to invoke civic pride.

      My business is based in a small city with a rather famous “church” at its centre . Knife crime, robbery, graffiti and anti social behaviour is rife

      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

        True, where peolpe can hang about in town centres there is always, drugs, {YLD} knife crime, gang wars, pick pockets, car theft. They notice one minute over parking but not your window smashed and goods gone,

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

      I have sympathy for your views. Unfortunately existing churches are neglected or used for profane purposes. Recent examples include mini golf inside one Anglican Church and a Helter Skelter, of all things, in another. The curse of trendy vicars strikes again.

      St. Paul’s charges an admission fee as it is a major tourist attraction. It’s the same for Lincoln cathedral and various others.

      Of course nobody is going to spend a couple of centuries constructing a great cathedral nowadays either.

      In the City of London there are still lots of little churchs that can be used for a little peace and reflection.

      • Posted August 20, 2019 at 2:44 am | Permalink

        Just walk in (as my late mother did) and tell the people on the desk politely that you don’t intend to pay to visit a place of worship. Then walk past.
        (She always contributed, but thought it was immoral to ask people to pay an entrance fee.)

        All churches should all be available for peace and reflection, not only for academic interest or entertainment.

  12. Posted August 19, 2019 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    Yesterday I wrote a reply to @agricola’s post on thriving Worcester citing Hayes and Southall* as more thriving town centres.

    This is because the mainly independant shops provide for the local community giving them a reason to go to shopping.

    Many other town centres are homogenous and drab, filled with the big boys whose wares are uninspiring and can be bought out of town or online.

    Town centres need to provide unique experiences relevant to the local demographics.
    Reply You did and I was too busy to post all these things yesterday

  13. Posted August 19, 2019 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Proposed actions to close down Smithfield’s Meat Market for a couple of weeks is planned it seems. Will the government and police just allow (or even cheer this on) as they seemed to with extinction rebellion.

    Depressing news on MMR vaccination rates. Why on earth can we not even get this working efficiently. Surely it is not that difficult to inject children efficiently. It was just done in an hour or two at school when we had it.

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      @LL; re MMR, the problem you forget is parental consent, without that the Govt, NHS or LEAs can not do anything!

      So why are parents not having their children vaccinated, could it be they still do not trust the three-in-one MMR vaccine, after all the boffin’s also said that the Thalidomide drug was safe…

      Why can’t the Govt. and NHS simply offer the three as separate vaccinations?

      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 12:45 pm | Permalink


        They need to do something because my daughter contracted measles before she had a chance to get the MMR vaccination. She was really ill with it too. I don’t think the general public realise just how dangerous this disease can be.

      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps may vacination a condition of attending the tax payer funded state school (for safely reasons in relation to other pupils and staff) unless the medical profession think there are some exceptional circumstances.

        These can be very nasty diseases for some people and can kill.

      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

        I agree – parents fears are rational. The Govt./NHS should offer the three as separate vaccinations. This should be co-ordinated with like-minded countries, so that big pharma can be reassured of sufficient revenue to justify vaccine re-development & scale of manufacture.

      • Posted August 20, 2019 at 2:46 am | Permalink

        Didn’t Tony and Cherie Blair have something to do with influencing people’s decisions because they refused to say if their children had been vaccinated?

        • Posted August 20, 2019 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

          Yup and everyone took it to indicate they hadn’t been given the MMR, but 3 separate jabs were so much more expensive for the plebs. Instead of taking a rational course they then ridiculed and monstered parents worried about side effects.

          Quite similar to how leave voters have been treated.

  14. Posted August 19, 2019 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Presumably the EU has played a large part in the destruction of our high streets?
    It has certainly managed to shut many butcher’s shops and just about all fishmongers.

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      European Regional Aid has been of enormous benefit to for the regeneration of many places, notably our northern cities.

      It is the fact that the English, as a rule, do not eat fish, let alone seafood, which has closed fishmongers.

      But hey, you’ve got endless good ol’ all-American KFCs and the rest haven’t you, so who cares?

      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 12:24 pm | Permalink


        What total and utter bo*****s

        The English invented FISH and Chip shops. Cornwall and Devon are renowned for their seafood . In Kent where I live 18 of the top restaurants are seafood restaurants. Some with michelin stars The Whitstable Oyster festival is famous . In my small town we have a fresh fish market every Thursday

        Muscles, cockles, whelks, crabs and jellied eels have been staple fair for centuries.

        The European Regional Aid fund WAS OUR MONEY GIVEN TO THEM TO GIVE BACK

        You are talking out of your backside

        ps but I disagree with ever hopeful, the disappearance of butchers and fishmongers has nothing to do with the EU

        • Posted August 19, 2019 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

          They often view seafood as at best a cheap pub snack, and expect fish and chips to be unrealistically priced too.

          Incidentally, fish, battered and deep fried, reportedly came with Jewish immigrants from Iberia, and French fries were invented by er, the French.

          The combination does seem to be British though.

          • Posted August 20, 2019 at 9:41 am | Permalink

            Martin in Cardiff

            What a pile of total patronising cobblers

            Once again you and you dimwitted socialism are proved wrong by facts. You must feel really stupid

            ps wrong again French fries were invented in Belgium

            Try googling stuff before you post , you might actually get something right

        • Posted August 19, 2019 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

          All totalitarian socialist organisations know how to spend your money better than you!

          Manage from the top and the member of the politburo get a comfortable life.

        • Posted August 19, 2019 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

          The disappearance of local butchers is a consequence of a number of factors including the regulation of abattoirs which bears down excessively on smaller units. There will be an opportunity to change these after Brexit. There is not much point to a local butcher unless he is able to tap into a local supply chain which obviously must include an abattoir as well as livestock farmers. The supermarkets are dependent on large abattoirs which necessitate the shipping of live animals over long distances. The government could consider banning the shipment of live animals for slaughter over long distances as it is cruel.

          With regard to fish, before the French invented the CFP to steal our fish, fish in this country was cheap plentiful and fresh with local supply chains based upon local fishing ports. There is no reason why
          this could not return after Brexit. As with meat, supermarkets are not geared toward locally sourced produce because they only have central buying operations so the local fishmonger would be the go to destination for fresher local caught fish.

        • Posted August 19, 2019 at 4:06 pm | Permalink


          “The English invented FISH and Chip shops.”

          That’s like saying the Russians invented say, borscht or the Chinese invented wontons. Nobody else was eating it.

          And incidentally I have heard that Jewish people claim to have introduced battered fish here in the 19th century.

          Apropos the European Regional Aid fund being our money in the first place – even if you a right would it have found its way into the regions rather than into the pockets of the few?

          • Posted August 20, 2019 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

            Margaret howard

            You first comment is meaningless . In response to your friend Martin telling us that the English dont eat fish I pointed out the absolute fact that we invented Fish & Chip shops. The first one opened by Joseph Malin ( a jew) in London in 1860 By 1910 there were more than 25,000 fish and chip shops across the UK

            Your second comment is even more fatuous and pointless. I think you will find that the UK government spends tax money on lots of regional schemes and would sadly probably spend more if they hadn’t given it to the EU

            ps Hows it going in Germany right now?

        • Posted August 19, 2019 at 7:35 pm | Permalink


          According to Seafish UK Organisation we eat 380,000 tonnes costing £5.65 billion of seafood a year in UK

          28% of population eat fish/seafood at least twice per week

          I just had a plate of deep fried chilli squid and lovely it was too

          • Posted August 20, 2019 at 7:16 am | Permalink

            So seventy-two percent do not.

            Thanks for the confirmation.

          • Posted August 20, 2019 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

            Martin in Cardiff

            Are you really that dim? 28% eat fish at least TWICE, two times a week DOES NOT MEAN THAT 78% dont eat fish …. good grief man you make yourself look more stupid with every post

        • Posted August 20, 2019 at 1:17 pm | Permalink


          So disappearance of butchers and fishmongers has something to do with the EU?

          Please, explain but try not to get personal do it an adult manner

          • Posted August 20, 2019 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

            bill brown

            Er where anywhere do I say that disappearance of butchers or fishmongers is because off the EU ? Come on point me to where I said that or apologise for spreading fake news

            If you bothered to actually read my very first post on the thread it says this at the bottom

            “ps but I disagree with everhopeful, the disappearance of butchers and fishmongers has nothing to do with the EU”

            Oh and keep your patronising comments to yourself especially as you are talking drivel and cant follow a simple thread

            Oh and have you worked out your own name yet hans?

      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

        the overfished waters, price rises, had a little to do with the decline in consumption! then the EU grabbed our seas, resulting in the industry mostly giving up and selling out.

        • Posted August 19, 2019 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

          Fred H

          The EU did not grab our seas. Quotas were handed out on a fair basis to all affected countries.

          It was some of our own greedy fishermen who chose to sell their quotas for a quick profit who are to blame.

          • Posted August 20, 2019 at 7:14 am | Permalink

            You read my mind yet again, Margaret!

            Furthermore, it was the UK government, not the European Union, which then sold on those quotas to non-British operators.

          • Posted August 20, 2019 at 7:29 am | Permalink

            That is total nonsense Margaret.
            The quotas were not fair to the UK
            They were not big enough to enable many in the industry to make a living.
            That is why they were forced to sell up and leave the industry.
            Some who persevered went bankrupt.
            Do some research and stop making things up.

      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        ”European Regional Aid”? It was our money to begin with! Let’s cut out the middle man!

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      Blaming the EU for this is a bit far fetched.

      Customers now use supermarkets for buying meat. The disappearance of the milkman also coincides with the rise of the supermarket.

      As for fishmongers, I suppose you will blame the Pope next for abandoning Friday abstinence?

      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        Trust me. Butchers were closed down by the most draconian EU regulations.
        Supermarkets can afford to comply with regs and in any case they just do not sell the range of cuts that used to be available in proper butcher’s shops. Plus any discerning person can tell the difference between decent meat and the stuff the supermarkets sell.
        According to the last remaining fishmonger around here it is very difficult to get supplies of fish.
        He looks forward to Brexit.
        PS…keep up …milkmen have reappeared. I get my milk delivered…in GLASS BOTTLES! He also sells bread…bacon…eggs….juice…WOOOOHOOOOO!😎

  15. Posted August 19, 2019 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    The biggest problem with conversion of High Street buildings is that you have to ‘VAT Register the building’ to do the work VAT free, the problem then is that you have to charge VAT on the rents for 20 years! Small traders who are by far the most interesting and create a diverse and unique town centre, can’t afford and extra 20% on the rent and as there is negative return for the owner, it’s cheaper to knock these buildings down!
    There is no problem getting footfall in diverse, small business town centres – the problem is that the Government by hardly taxing Corporations on the outskirts of towns has left the customer with no money in their pockets!

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      “can’t afford and extra 20% on the rent”

      Most high street businesses will be VAT registered and can reclaim the VAT they pay as ‘input tax’, the main exceptions being businesses involved in exempt activities such as dentistry and insurance.

  16. Posted August 19, 2019 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    After 6pm our town centre is like the wild west.
    I would never think of going there. In the day it’s crawling with traffic wardens. No thanks.

  17. Posted August 19, 2019 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    At this point , worrying about the High Street is a bit like worrying about the whats for dessert on the Titanic.

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 12:25 pm | Permalink


      Still waiting for you to answer my question. When is your job transferring ?

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      Oh Newmania

      Trade between euro-zone member states fell by 6.6% in June compared to the same period last year. That was the fastest such contraction since 2013. Exports from the eurozone to the rest of the world also dropped by 4.7%, the fastest rate since 2016.

      Explain please why we need to be shackled to this

  18. Posted August 19, 2019 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Pedestrianisation has failed

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      Indeed the war against car and trucks has largely killed many High Streets. Done in the totally misguided belief (so beloved by the left and the BBC) that public transport is somehow greener, saves C02 and more efficient. It is not, in general (and all things considered door to door plus staff etc.).

      Is is also far, far less convenient and very inflexible too.

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      No, it hasn’t.

  19. Posted August 19, 2019 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    The Government, any Government, only tinkers with problems. Sticking plaster solutions are needed in the short term but not in the long term.
    Take rates.
    When I ran a shop a man, it was always a man, came round from the council and measured the area of the shop. So, in the 19 years I ran the business I was measured 4 times. As I was lead to believe the value of the property was calculated on the square footage. The first 20 feet of depth was at the full rate. The next 20 feet at a lower rate, the next 20 feet lower still and so on. If you had a second floor that was at a much lower rate. Thus, a large area resulted in a much lower average rateable value per square foot than a small shop.
    So, there is an advantage to being in a bigger shop assuming the same sales per square foot.
    I would suggest that the rates for shops be based on turnover. This would eliminate the need to have someone measure the shops every five years, eliminate the need to re-value the property every five years and ensure that the larger stores payed at the same rate as the smaller shops.

  20. Posted August 19, 2019 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    I am sure that a significant factor in keeping our local Town centre, Totnes, alive and prosperous, is the ability to park in it significantly more cheaply than in the surrounding car parks, but only for a short time, twenty minutes. You can park for an absolute maximum of an hour but the cheapness falls away.

  21. Posted August 19, 2019 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    The great thing about competition is that it doesn’t need government regulation to make it work!

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      @alastair harris; “competition [..//..] doesn’t need government regulation to make it work!”

      Oh yes it does, hence why manufactures, traders and retailers have to abide by a book full of laws relating to selling, packaging, advertising, displaying, other anti competitive requirements & Consumer rights etc!

      • Posted August 20, 2019 at 7:08 pm | Permalink


        No it doesn’t. Just because politicians interfere doesn’t mean its necessary . Competing business in a market place worked fine before it was regulated . Before mass regulation there were very very few monopolies . Most regulation is delivered on behalf of big corporates specifically in order to try to stop new competitors and to create monopoly positions

        • Posted August 21, 2019 at 7:05 am | Permalink

          @Walter; OK, name me one civilised, industrialised, country in the last 2000 years that has/had zero company or retail laws that control how competition/capitalism can work – nice pipe-dream how ever, that everyone can be morally sound so that we can all live in Nirvana free from corruption, nepotism, exploitation etc…

          • Posted August 21, 2019 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

            Jerry Cholmondley-Warner

            Industrialisation only happened 300 years ago.

            Prior to that markets existed, no regulation just producers, buyers and sellers. Still nice little frothing rant Jerry EXCEPT no one said there weren’t any rules at all, the point was about COMPETITION working, and I think you’ll find there were lots of competing businesses long before government started to regulate . Heres one example

            The railway system of Great Britain, started with the building of local isolated wooden wagonways starting in 1560s. The system was later built as a patchwork of local rail links operated by small private railway companies in late 18th century. These isolated links developed during the railway boom of the 1840s into a national network, although still run by dozens of competing companies. They ONLY became a monopoly when government started to regulate .

            The point stands competition in trade works without government regulation and did so for millennia as people traded goods and services long before any form of centralised government existed to even formulate regulations

          • Posted August 21, 2019 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

            @Walter; All pre 17th Century societies and countries had rules and regulation, that is the point you refuse to grasp, even the most primitive of societies have rules as laid down by the king, “village elders”, wise men or perhaps even the religious-teacher. The Egyptians, Greeks and Roman empires, all more than 2000 years ago, were industrious -just not what we would regard as industrialisation.

            You bring the railway network into the argument, it warrants some corrections and comment; Apologies to our host though.

            Sorry but you do not have a first clue about railway history, Parliament started to regulate the ‘railways’ well before the 1840s [1], and it was this regulation, as it developed, that allowed a patchwork to become an integrated national system. In fact many railways were only, or only remained, viable because of Parliaments ‘interference’ (as you might regard it), giving legal “running power rights” over another companies tracks, or at least the right to cross it on the level for example.

            The only pre 1923 railway company to seriously object to the ‘Grouping’ of that year was the GWR, but it accepted the need to absorb other more minor railway into its own system non the less. Many of the small railways were loosing money hand over fist by then, whilst the larger companies knew the new competition from the motor car/lorry and motor-omnibus would only to get worse.

            As for the 1948 Nationalisation of the railway system, if the “Transport Bill 1946” was so wrong, why did the Churchill govt of 1951 not denationalise the railways (as they did with road haulage) as a matter of urgency, even as late as 1955 it would have been a relatively trivial task to do so, could it be that even the Tories accepted the inevitability of State ownership (and further, by 1955, the need for the State to inject hundreds of millions of GBP into the system)?

            Also I wasn’t commenting on monopolies, just rules, regulations & laws, but seeing you mention it, what do you think prevents monopolies -not capitalism, a powerful capitalist would love nothing more than having control of a monopoly…

            Carry on dreaming Walter, about your Nirvana.

            [1] The Middleton Railway Act of 1758

  22. Posted August 19, 2019 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    My perception of my local council is that it is very good at spending money but not so good at earning it. I believe it needs more business acumen.

    I understand that it is approaching £1bn of debt… that’s around £4k for every individual of all ages.

  23. Posted August 19, 2019 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Sir John on this subject you are totally wrong

    To encourage new start-up small retail shops you need only do 2 things, introduce free parking and remove business rates

    In many cases its not always the parking charges but rather the threat from traffic wardens that if you’re late returning to your car you’ll get a hefty fine, this constant worry adds pressure on potential customers to shop elsewhere

    So you’ve decided to open up a small retail shop, you need start up finances to pay for: stock, rent, staff, energy, water, insurance, promotions, waste collection, security and business rates all before you make a penny in profit. Estimated start up costs of a small retail shop is £15k (without staff costs) and half of this is a business rate

    Business rates is a tax without representation, its in fact a double tax as every person staff and owner already pays council tax. A shop is a structure and doesn’t use any local amenities, its has to arrange its own waste collect, its own security, and has policies and mechanises to reduce fire and health & safety

    It’s a big out lay for any new small retail shop owner

    From the list above you get something in return from your expenditure apart from the business rate….you get absolutely nothing from paying a business rate

    Also if you engage your local authority to reduce your business rate the first thing they tell you. if you wish to apply for a reduction, is that your business rate may well increase

    • Posted August 20, 2019 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      glen cullen

      Great post, thank you

  24. Posted August 19, 2019 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Off topic, this morning Jeremy Corbyn is saying that a general election would provide a ‘once in a generation chance’ for political change, but it is little more than three years since David Cameron made the same kind of offer:

    “A once in a generation decision”

    “The referendum on Thursday, 23 June is your chance to decide if we should remain in or leave the European Union.”

    “This is your decision. The government will implement what you decide.”

    The generations are coming thick and fast these days; so when we speak of Andy as being of the younger generation that could mean he is only three years old.

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      Alas I am over 40. But it still means I have to live with your barbaric Brexit for 30+ years more than most of you.

      Ironically social care is one of the areas of most concern in the years after Brexit. About the time many Brexit voters are going to need it.

      Unfortunate. But amusing.

      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

        barbaric…a new project fear adjective
        Well done andy

      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 7:02 pm | Permalink


        No you dont you really dont have to live with us

        To tell us you are filthy rich and dont need to work

        You told us you shut your company and sacked all the staff because of Brexit

        You told us that you have a big expensive house in France

        You told us that your children future depended on moving around parts of Europe

        Easy, go live in your French house , all your problems are solved

        Tell me why not

        • Posted August 20, 2019 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

          Andy claimed to have two expensive houses in France.

          But then he has claimed so many things.

      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

        Don’t worry Andy. You’ll be 60 in what will feel like 3 years. Time flies.

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      And further off topic…

      Lets remind everyone that it was the EU that decided to tie the future of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in Europe to the Withdrawal Agreement.

      This should have always been sorted out bilaterally as the first priority…

  25. Posted August 19, 2019 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Fifty years ago catalogue shopping was very much looked down upon as something for the housebound and poorest only. The high street did not feel threatened, but nowadays mail order’s online recrudescence has made ‘shopping by post’ respectable! Why? cheaper products, laziness, fashion, facebook, who knows? The effects are though are dire. The Corsican Upstart labelled us a ‘nation of shopkeepers’, but he need not have worried, for Amazon is here.

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      David Marples

      Any idea how many 10000’s of new small businesses have sprung up using internet trading?

      Then it is true that the EU tried to put a stop to it with VATMOSS

  26. Posted August 19, 2019 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Cirencester is a traditional market town of which there are many examples in Britain and an over-zealous parking regime in the last dozen years robbed it off its previous relaxed ambience. After over-zealous hikes in rates too led way to shop closures as visitors and shoppers declined attracted to out of town retail areas instead.
    Sunday parking charges appeared in key areas which tourists also used.
    Discovering they were being too greedy the Council too little and too late offered free parking after 3pm in these key areas. But it still did not stop the exodus in clientele nor businesses.
    Pedestrianisation has been a mixed blessing.
    The last big business to leave was HOF so now it has lost out similar to say Bournemouth losing its old flagship M&S Departmental big store to focus only on food.
    If you don’t understand the hurdles customers have to jump to get into towns you suffer. Selling is successful if you make it easy to buy – obvious but councils see businesses as cash cows due to bureaucratic mentality sadly.

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      Bureaucratic doesn’t wholly cover it. Some councils are just plain stupid. Regrettable to use the word stupid, but there isn’t another word that covers a number of the asinine town centre and planning policies that they have in place.

  27. Posted August 19, 2019 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    With the proposed age for drawing your state pension there won’t be anyone shopping!! We’ll all be at work and those that aren’t won’t be well enough to go on their own. Either that or they will be dead.

    Reply That was a think tank view, not government policy

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply. If they are thinking about it then it just might happen! I am sure the state pension age will rise again in the not too distant future. Something to look forward to.

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Reply to Reply – Are you sure?

      Many people are NOW required to work extra unanticipated years before drawing their state pension.

      Lets blame it on Blair & Brown…

  28. Posted August 19, 2019 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Big superstores like Tesco sell just about everything and enough of things like electrical appliances, motoring products, stationery etc to take a lot of business away from small specialist retailers. Probably enough to make them not worthwhile.

    Parking can be expensive in towns but is often free in out of town sites.

    The effect that the internet has had on shopping has been enormous. e.g. for most computer items I’m interested in, it would be a hassle to find a shop that sold them and drive there, and then they’d have a limited range. I buy them off the web and get a better choice and prices. Delivery is pretty quick.

    Something else I notice, also web related, is supermarket delivery vans. Select your items on the website, and for a fiver, they drop it off at your door. That’s well worth it for a lot of people.

    I see what’s happening in the high street as just part of natural change.

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      It’s good for the environment too. One van delivering 50 packages is far better than 50 cars collecting one item each, or 50 cars going to the supermarket.

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      Try asking them to cut your hair or mend your shoes or fit your bra! Invite your friends out for a celebration in Tesco’s cafe and see how many turn up. Oh, and put the vast majority of people who are employed in small businesses – not in Corporations, onto the dole. I’m sure you will be happy to pay the costs.

  29. Posted August 19, 2019 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Off topic again, I think Boris Johnson should make it clear to the public that if he asks the EU leaders to enter into fresh negotiations on our withdrawal then he will be asking them to either change, or break, EU law AS AGREED BY HIS PREDECESSOR.

    “(12) This extension excludes any re-opening of the Withdrawal Agreement. Any unilateral commitment, statement or other act by the United Kingdom should be compatible with the letter and the spirit of the Withdrawal Agreement, and must not hamper its implementation. Such an extension cannot be used to start negotiations on the future relationship.”

    One might ask: what did Theresa May and her europhile supporters think they were doing by agreeing to an EU law to extend our EU membership, but with any further negotiations on our withdrawal strictly forbidden during that period?

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      Why did Germany sign up to the terms of the Versailles Treaty? Answer: they had no choice

      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 2:41 pm | Permalink


      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        Theresa May had a choice; she made the wrong choice, the eurofederalist’s choice, and her party is likely to pay heavily for it even if she does not.

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      Don’t forget the oft phrase oft repeated by both sides that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.” Is anyone reminding Messrs Tusk and Barnier that the clock is ticking and they ought to use their remaining time carefully. I want the EU 27 to do well, but I fear for them after we have left

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      DC thanks very interesting point .

      Absolutely why ask for an extension when any renegotiaten is forbidden by the EU during .that period ?
      I think we can rule out the facilitation of a ‘ no deal Brexit ‘
      So it could only have been to allow more time for the ghastly Hammond , Grieve ,Clarke , Gauke squad to do their worst !

      Maybe she even thought that the European elections were a good thing .

      Thank goodness we have a British awkward squad in Brussels to help counter our own left lib dim lot in Parliament .

  30. Posted August 19, 2019 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    I am loathe to go into town centres these days because all the panhandlers and beggars irk me. It has just become too much.
    I certainly cannot be described as somebody who totally lacks compassion and indeed feel very sorry for the genuinely needy in reduced circumstances but the button-holing is incessant.
    I have also heard stories of how some of these people are not in fact all they seem and can even accumulate considerable incomes in busy areas. Tax free of course.
    I believe they should be moved along to shelters and not allowed to beg in town centres.

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      The Tories closed down the shelters so their rich buddies would not have to pay a little more tax.

      I am sure the billionaire Tory donors don’t see the veterans begging on the streets. After all they spend half the year in tax havens on their yachts.

      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

        Most local authorities are labour and lib dem

      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 7:06 pm | Permalink


        YOU are in the top 0.8% of global wealth, if you feel that bad about it give it all to charity

  31. Posted August 19, 2019 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Just listening to Corbyn’s long, tedious & evil Brexit Speech.

    All the usual “politics of envy” tosh, magic money tree lies, nationalisation (so theft) of many people’s and pension funds assets and other dangerous drivel. The Corbyn as a Father Christmas act promising everything to everyone (except anyone whose assets he will steal or destroy). With Labour very dangerous drivel on nationalisation, housing, thefts off landlords and the killing of the death of the housing rental market.

    He is going to invest in “every part of our country” and pay everyones University fees too. I did not think he was personally that rich.

    So what he actually means is he is going to steal money of tax payers who use and invest money efficiently and piss it down the drain.

    Surely the voters will not be stupid enough to vote for this dangerous idiot and his trip to Venezuela will they? Did they have an automated clapping machine it sounded like they did?

    Academic and vocational education equally important was about the only thing he said that I could almost agree with. Though even here we have far too many so called “academic” degrees in law, PPE, greencrap, leftie economists, media/gender studies and the likes.

    Depressingly he is the 5/2 favourite to be the next PM! What an appalling mess the LibDim fake Conservative EUphiles – Major, Cameron, Osborne, Hammond, Clark, May and the rest have left behind them and still causing huge damage even now!

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 4:14 pm | Permalink


      ” What an appalling mess the LibDim fake Conservative EUphiles – Major, Cameron, Osborne, Hammond, Clark, May and the rest have left behind them and still causing huge damage even now!”

      Well, those EUphiles and EU membership turned us from the ‘sick man of Europe’ 50 years ago into the world’s 5th largest, wealthiest economy.

      You won’t have to wait that long to see what EUphobes will have done to this country.

      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

        Lady Thatcher dod that.
        Not that list of poor politicians.

  32. Posted August 19, 2019 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Off topic, again, if I correctly understand what Michael Gove has said then Boris Johnson has made more preparations for a no deal Brexit over three weeks than Theresa May made over three years. When we are out of the EU – if we do leave, which is increasingly in doubt – there will have to be a thorough investigation with a view to criminal prosecutions.

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      According to the news today, that ‘report’ was 3 weeks old, so no doubt a few weeks at least in the making, this seems to be a Theresa May government hand grenade thrown into the new government. Why oh why don’t they come out and say so and scotch all the Remainer speculation and BBC scare stories that are abounding because of it. Time to take off the gloves and name names.

  33. Posted August 19, 2019 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Er really my small business saw its business rates increase 200% because the council pulled a stunt and merged two seperate addresses into one . Then they levied an extra tax in the form of a BID

    The Conservatives and councils are the root cause of most of our problems

  34. Posted August 19, 2019 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    My local town centre is as good as dead with at least ten charity shops, a few estate agents, gambling shops, tattoo shop, a couple of card shops and a handful of brand shops near the ASDA which basically closed everything else down when it expanded and started doing so much instore closing down all the local independent retailers then starting with the florists and tv shop. Rent and rates are too high for the footfall and now category/spend level of current shoppers.

    Then the Council agreed for the same supermarket to expand in the primary town nearby thus virtually closing all the decent shops there – brilliant! Plus they started to charge for parking everywhere other than the couple of hours this supermarket and other supermarkets allows you to use their car park curtailing the time to spend walking around the rest of the town or to eat lunch or enjoy the other facilities a thriving town centre would have.

    Most people just take the hit on their fuel and car wear by going to the nearby designer outlet and use the internet.

    • Posted August 19, 2019 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      Only one tattoo shop? You’re lucky. we have one in every street, plus nail beauty bars, coffee shops, phone shops, charity shops- and nowhere to buy a pint of milk. Parking is extortionate, especially when the retail parks are free and only a short drive away. Every council initiative has made matters worse. The spent millions on a traffic scheme that so traumatised the casual visitor that once they managed to extricate themselves they vowed never to return. They bid for EU money to remodel the market place. I can’t recall what grandiose plans they had for it, but at the moment it’s home to a sandpit during the school holidays. And as for the empty shops units any new building in the town centre has to include a retail unit. Some have been empty since they were built ten years or more ago. Politicians should be banned from taking business decisions.

      • Posted August 19, 2019 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

        I agree Dave, we also had a massively expensive traffic light scheme that made delays worse and gave no improvement, I’ve never understood why that decision was taken, they’d have been better putting parking bays in on the main dual carriageway so that the carriageway doesn’t become a single lane because of parked cars.

  35. Posted August 19, 2019 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    It’s the old chewing gum stuck to the pavement and the weeds growing from the gutters that put me off. Then the sight if the traffic wardens with their note pads out. People jay walking all over the place is enough to send me out to suburbs on the edge of town

  36. Posted August 19, 2019 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me that Bracknell has done an amazing job on town center regeneration and should be a model for the whole of Berkshire.

  37. Posted August 19, 2019 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Sir John

    Do you think Wokingham has lost the plot? Coffee shops are equal in number to charity shops.

    Nothing wrong with charity but when the sell the same as commercial minded enterprises its a slap in the face as one pays the full rates and the other doesn’t.

    Traffic free is a good idea, but so is separating pedestrians from cyclist.

    The big downside of local rates is they are not levied on ability to pay. A large national chain finishes up being subsidized by the small entrepreneur who is trying to get off the grounds. That cant be right.

  38. Posted August 19, 2019 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Most high streets suffer when they start to clone their neighboring town with the same shops run by the same national chains.

    Why would some one choose one town over another when they are all the same, is quite a logical choice. Which one makes it cheaper to park. As you know Wokingham is anti everything but cyclists and there is nothing to attract anyone, even the so-called market has become pointless. So to shop do you choose Reading or Guildford in practice it is more convenient and cheaper to head down the M4 to Westfield

    I am a frequent visitor to the US, there they recognize without the small guy there is no future. One of the more vibrant areas actual bans all national chains. The effect being that area has become more attractive to live, work and shop. Always vibrant and busy where as the down-town Malls and shops are dead.

    I personally would always support a local business over a national chain. That is were my local council is anti and works against people like me

  39. Posted August 19, 2019 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    So with Priti Patel preparing to stop the movement of people from 1st November, I’m sure she means people going in and out of the country- but anyway can only be for a short period of time until new rules are clear- however was wondering as I am expected to travel to Austria late November-

    Question: will we have our new passports issued by then? or will we be able to travel on the old EU one- don’t want to book flights until I am sure?

  40. Posted August 19, 2019 at 6:14 pm | Permalink


    I just had a popup on the BBC Sport web site saying that their privacy policy has changed.

    I clicked the thing to see what, and found amongst other things, settings for advertising cookies (rather limited ability to switch off, it must be said).

    So I wondered… aren’t the BBC supposed to have nothing to do with advertising? So how can they have ‘advertising partners’?

    Cheats? Scrap the licence fee please.

  41. Posted August 19, 2019 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Just one question on the town centres’ thing…

    Why do you believe that shopping centres should be in town centres?

    It seems a much better option to have them outside the centre where large car parks can be built and no fee needs to be paid. Also road systems can be designed and built to reduce congestion.

    Most town centres are stuck with what they already are, no worthwhile redesign is possible. Make the centres residential and the periphery for shopping.

    Or… just accept that the internet is a better way to shop unless you’re buying services that need an actual person (haircut etc).

    • Posted August 20, 2019 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      It depends on what you mean by shopping centres. I translate it as where shopping takes place.

      Garden centres and Supermarkets etc outside the centre. Specialist shops in the centre. Shopping can be a social and pleasurable experience, ask your wife. Mix it with residential and you have a thriving community. Add a few coffee shops, restaurants, street food and markets and you have a day out. Always remember that not everyone has the mobility that a car offers so good interlinking public transport is an essential to ensure that can enjoy both in town and out of town facilities.

  42. Posted August 19, 2019 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    Just read the communiqué from our PM to the EU

    So Boris is advocating the Teresa May withdrawal agreement less the back-stop…I expected more….a lot more

    • Posted August 20, 2019 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      It would be electorially suicidal to consider the WA as anything but dead. There are useable organs within it that could be transplanted to a treaty under the auspices of the Vienna Convention, but even talking about it or it’s worst aspect, the backstop, just gives the impression that it is still alive in the minds of some politicians. As I have said, it is toxic and an electoral no go area.

  43. Posted August 20, 2019 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    It’s important to note that it’s not just the town centres that are suffering but also the out of town Malls like Newcastle’s Metro Centre where they have ample free parking. They also have small business which pay super rates of tax, and of course the business rates are outrageous. In the North, because of the refusal to relate then the staged implementation of same, we have been subsidising the south (as usual).
    Incidentally solar panels are not viable in the north, so the coldest, darkest, poorest part of the U.K. subsidised the warmest, lightest, richest part of the U.K.
    Brilliant – and from a ‘conservative’ government!

    • Posted August 20, 2019 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

      @ Lynn Atkinson

      The Metro Centre, just south of the River Tyne is actually in Gateshead, not Newcastle. But you make a valid point about high business rates- which leaves many small enterprises struggling.

      Just 20 miles up- river to the west you come to Hexham, famous for its Abbey. There too, the costs (and difficulty) of parking and extortionate business rates have progressively “hollowed out” the town- which has lost veg shops, toy shops, its local shopping centre (Robbs) and it has lost a music shop over the last twenty-five years. Hexham used to have a lovely large garden centre (Tynedale Park)- it is now Tesco!

      Town centres have been kicked in the teeth by successive governments (both Labour and Conservative) who have put up business rates, laid Green and other regulations on businesses (some of it EU- related should be soon resolved) and- over the last decade cut funding for local councils (so local teachers, policemen and council workers lose their jobs which reduces monies going into local economies).

      The big chain stores- Tesco, Aldi, M & S also such money from the northern towns towards the big cities (often London) where the big national companies have their headquarters. These companies do pay local folk but no company keeps stores where they don’t make a profit- so by definition Tesco, M & S and Aldi are not an overall economic benefit to places like Hexham. Profits head south and money is sucked out of the local economy.

      This needs addressing by fostering a climate whereby small independent shops can grow and flourish: Business rates need cutting- a lot. There needs to be no more Public Spending cuts and local councils could be helped to get initiatives like “Park and Ride” up- and- running so congestion in towns is reduced.

      Ian Pennell

  44. Posted August 20, 2019 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Dear Sir John Redwood,

    There has indeed been a decline in the economies of town centres across Britain. The changes that I have seen in Hexham (Northumberland) just over twenty miles from where I live is common to what has happened in a lot of places. Shops are going bust left right and centre and these are related to the increased cost of trading and to declines in both the number and spending power of the locals and tourists in these towns.

    Chief amongst the causes of this malaise are:

    1) Business rates are, as you rightly point out, too high: They need slashing.

    2) The difficulty and expense of parking: Local councils could be provided with the funds to build more car parks and mandated to cap what they charge to folk who need to park their cars. More towns could be encouraged to provide schemes like “Park and Ride” with the provision of special loans or grants for this purpose.

    3) A lot of town- centres nowadays are blighted by anti- social behaviour and violent crime: This would be rectified by putting a lot more Police on the streets who would issue “on the spot” fines to yobs (so this would pay for itself and act as a deterrent to yobs). Boris Johnson’s 20,000 extra Police Officers will go some way towards rectifying these problems but much more needs to be done.

    4) Now that the budget deficit has been virtually eliminated and borrowing is very cheap there should be no more Public Spending cuts. Sacking local policemen, teachers, council workers- and the like – harms local economies by reducing the monies going into those economies.

    5) There needs to be more provision of start- up grants and loans for new businesses in towns, cities and rural areas across Britain. Small local enterprises keep the profits local (unlike major PLCs with outlets across Britain but which often have their head- offices in London, Birmingham or Manchester).

    Address these issues and you will arrest (and reverse) the decline in British towns and cities outside London.

    Ian Pennell

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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