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Steady erosion of centre

Most readers cannot have failed to notice the irony in some of your recent reports.

Firstly we have the report of a petition to try to encourage a town centre supermarket not to close and later there is an article of a store selling food wanting to open on a derelict site east of the town centre.

A few days earlier and a toy shop, open in the town centre, was reported going to open in another retail park, presumably to close its town centre shop after Christmas. Last month you carried a story of the Tory government giving millions of taxpayers’ money to places like Swindon to help revitalise their town centres.

While this action may look as if the government is trying to stop the spread of shop ‘blight’, the symptoms are national and involve a shop closing and this spreading to another and so on. They are really throwing millions of pounds of our money on an out-dated model that is doomed to failure.

What is needed is the government’s money (ours really) to be spent on an in-depth study of the effect of online sales and how mini-civic centres can be sustainable to give communities a focus.

I notice our local Tory councillors, both parish and at borough level, welcome the steady erosion of the town’s centre by welcoming out-of-town development. With similar closing in the town centre there will be no net job gains and the road structure is already there.

Bob Pixton, Abney Moor, Liden

Is US really our friend?

Do we need the USA on our side, as John L Crook claims (SA, October 12)?

Well, if we choose to stab our friends over the channel in the back, we will need all the friends we can find. Unfortunately, the USA never acts as anybody’s friend; it always puts its own interests first. The only difference with Trump is that he states this explicitly.

This is plain from 20th century history. World War One? Lets wait until we are sure Germany won’t win (and then wait for a good excuse). World War Two? Yes sirree, we are happy to rent you lots of war material, you can pay us back over the next 60 years - until Japan attacked them, naturally, and then their main interest was to prevent the USSR dominating Europe.

Suez: we could do with a little support, Uncle Sam... tumbleweed. Falklands? Not in our interest, sorry. Iraq: any chance of a hand, GB? Of course, not like our army and navy have anything else to do.

And on it goes, with their recent betrayal of the Kurds and the case of the runaway ‘diplomat’. Seriously, is there as a single case where the USA has acted out of friendship to any other country?

Howard March, Tudor Crescent, Stratton St Margaret

Not all leavers are insular

Regarding the dispute between pro-EU John Stooke and pro-Brexit John Crook (SA letters), it is clear that the points made by Mr Stooke on US trade policy are completely avoided by the waffling Mr Crook but something else needs clarifying.

While Mr Crook has the right to believe any mythology he wishes, he really has no right to presume to be speaking for anyone else. He writes: “‘misguided insular, backward minority’, well that’s me and the other 17.4 million who agreed to leave”. As one of the 17.4 million I have no problem with Mr Crook admitting his own backward insularity, I object strongly to that description being used to characterise my position or millions of other EU critics.

I think Mr Stooke’s prediction of a “bright future” within the EU neglects the neo-liberal, pro austerity, pro big business politics of that institution and is way too rosy. He also neglects the growing storm clouds of global economic crisis.

But on the other side Mr Crook’s Brexit is an appeal to fantasy. His appeal to an “eye-watering agreement with the US” shows total ignorance of what the US itself stated about its trade policy as. Its official explanation in 2016 that US trade policy “increases US leadership and strengthens the US economy”. It sees protective rules as a trade barrier.

Peter Smith, Woodside Avenue, Swindon

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