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Say goodbye to past and plan for future

THE double page spread about Greenbridge Retail Park (SA, September 20) poses interesting questions.

I was a member of the local council in the time when Mrs Thatcher’s government wanted to destroy this tier of governance. Apart from the poll tax she felt that ‘petty bureaucrats’ in town halls were restrictions on free trade and so set out to stymie them. This was to be achieved by cutting off one of their sources of income, car parking, by allowing out-of-town developments to be ‘presumed development’ unless there was a good reason why not.

While large-scale neighbourhood shops for local needs had always gone on, eg Cavendish Square and West Swindon Centre, this new idea paved the way for retail parks to be built on the outskirts of towns. The developers were well pleased as apart from minimal contribution to local roads they put next to nothing into the cultural pot of a town and siphoned off the money that people spent.

Who could have predicted the impact of the internet 30 years ago? So fast forward to today and not only are town centres dying but their replacements, retail parks, are having a tough time too due to online shopping. Recently the council has thrown out ideas which miss the obvious point: engagement with providers of goods and services is changing away from a walk-look-buy model, and will continue to change.

What is a solution that will work for the next 20-30 years?

Recently the government has said it will plough loads of money into reversing dying towns. In my opinion this is throwing good money after a failing model when what is needed is a fresh approach. Who knows what effect the continued penetration by on-line activity, let alone the not yet developed technological son-of-the-internet replacement will have on shopping patterns? Not to mention delivery by drones. The only thing we can be certain of is that the pattern of work, leisure and retail time will be different than that of today so to encourage more of today’s pattern, is doomed to be an expensive failure.

We should plan for the future and say goodbye to the present and past.

Bob Pixton, Abney Moor, Liden

We should applaud climate protesters

The children who took part in the climate strike on Friday demonstrated their concern not only for their own future but for the future of the planet and its life.

Recent UN (WMO) reports show a more rapid rise in global temperatures than expected over the past five years and an increase in sea level which is also more than was predicted.

Rather than criticising what they are doing, we should be pleased that the children are leading the campaign for governments and politicians to take action at every level.

I recall that some years ago there was a children’s strike in France against government proposals. When asked to comment, the then minister of education, Claude Allegre, said that ‘they are learning to be good citizens’. In this case, the children are showing they care about the planet’s future and they are good world citizens.

Far from disparaging the children’s actions, we should be applauding them and joining them

Tony Mayer, Wheatlands, Haydon Wick

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