Future of town centre is at a crossroads

I am sure some readers of this page look to see who the writer is before embarking upon reading their latest. They probably regard me as a ‘one horse’ older person who ought to get out more!

I make no apology for banging the drum about residential over development of ex-office blocks and the lack of a town centre (or ex-business park) plan: after-all, these buildings are likely to be about for decades to come and the communities they breed will affect our whole way of life.

There have been numerous variations of Romeo and Juliet since Shakespeare’s time.

One that is apt was a smash hit musical and film: West Side story. There, families lived in high rise apartments, youngsters roamed the streets and generally part of cities were regarded as no-go areas.

Roll our situation, unless checked, a few decades and we could have a modern version of the play.

It is incumbent on Government to have long distant glasses on so that the best of the human spirit is encouraged, and minefields avoided.

It was the hatred of local government by Mrs. Thatcher’s regime that spawned out of town retail parks.

These avoided residents going into town centre car parks making local authorities’ big players in the way town/cities evolved. By permitting out of town shopping, a hit with voters, she was able to emasculate councils.

However, and there always is at least one, the internet with its home shopping, arrived. When it did, we now have boarded up retail parks, a situation exacerbated by the Covid crisis.

With working from home, shopping from home and home-schooling we have reached a cross-roads where we will never go back to the way we were.

Certainly throwing millions of our money in attempts to recreate failed system will not work.

Now is the time for Big debates on town centre plans, schools shopping. Will part-time schooling become the norm? will ‘click-and-collect’ shops be the face of the new High Street? People should be encouraged to debate and decide rather than sleepwalking into the future.

Bob Pixton

Abney Moor


Dubious connections

I have to congratulate Steve Cowdry for his persistence in trying to make the case for the UK remaining part of his beloved EU project, but in doing so he has to twist and turn like a kite in the wind (SA, April 19).

Let’s just examine his latest writings. First I doubt that anyone was “almost incandescent with rage” at his so called ‘facts’ which were nothing more than list of ‘things’ which frankly had only dubious connections with the UK’s membership of the EU.

Secondly, Steve asked me to name one benefit of Brexit – I did and I guess that many readers will agree that the UK vaccination programme would not have been as successful if we were still bound by the bureaucracy of the EU.

If Steve thinks differently he might ask some of his European friends who are envious of the success of the UK programme and frustrated with the lack of action in their own country.

Steve now changes tack to make the success of the programme a contest between the Government and the NHS. That’s simply a nonsense and a feeble attempt to deny the truth. No one is fooled by Steve’s ploy.

Steve appears to wilfully ignore the context of my piece on Robert Buckland MP when he makes a silly attempt to suggest that I am arguing Robert is not getting the respect he deserves.

My letter referred to the fact that a senior member of the Government is unable to speak with a 'decision maker' at the Planning Inspectorate which demonstrates the problem with bureaucracy in our country.

After all if the Inspectorate won’t speak with the Lord Chancellor, what chance is there for the rest of us?

Still, I note that Steve is no longer peddling the lie that the UK’s Covid death rate is the highest in the world, and he hasn’t really got an answer to Helen Browning’s decision to export pork from Denmark to a factory in Germany and then import the finished product to the UK.

And to crown it all we are still out of the political embrace of the EU – thank goodness

Des Morgan

Caraway Drive