Monday, 10 October 2011

'Regeneration' through more shopping?

Following recent news about 'regeneration' and funding for it, one of our readers has submitted the post below. We are publishing it in its entirety.

"Recent news that Tesco is in the tender of the preferred bidder for the Mill Street building works is not greeted with glee by everyone in Ceredigion. Some people feel that with five supermarkets already (Morrisons, Co-op, Lidl, CKs, Spar, not including Iceland), Aberystwyth is pretty well served on that front providing sufficient choice for shoppers. What would Tesco, or any other supermarket, provide that these don't? It will provide low paid jobs for some people, and competition to all the small, local, independent stores in the town centre.

The Chamber of Commerce apparently said that Tesco and the multi-story car park will provide 'regeneration' to Aberystwyth. Erm, is Aberystwyth really in need of this 'regeneration'? Will it encourage local people to set up businesses in many of the small empty shops that are dotted around the town centre? No, because business rates are far to high for many specialist shops to survive. Will it lead to the empty or derelict housing stock being done up and available for rent? I doubt it. Will it provide an interesting set of options for those who are currently unemployed and seeking jobs? Yes, but low-paid shift work in supermarkets isn't exactly going to be the career choice of many people. There isn't that much else 'wrong' with Aberystwyth that it needs 'regenerating' through a scheme that will mean compulsory purchase of houses to be knocked down (ridiculous when accommodation is at a premium with the badly-managed increase in university students and when the proposal includes housing - why knock down decent housing just to built other housing?); destruction of the valuable Drill Hall used by many in the community; and the creation of a concrete monster sucking the life out of Aberystwyth. The collapsing economies around the world are showing that shopping and spending is not some kind of new holy grail we need to follow, but a capitalist nightmare that is in danger of dragging us all down.

Here's a radical idea though - how about regenerating the heart of Aberystwyth with a nature garden? A wildlife haven schools and community groups could create and look after, teaching kids about plants, animals, nature etc? Providing a green space where people can sit and enjoy looking at greenery and wildlife? With peak oil around the corner (i.e. when the oil starts running out and becoming scarce, and very expensive) basing developments around cars and shopping will look rather short-term and then we'll be wishing we hadn't thought that a supermarket and a multi-story car-park would be a 'good thing'."

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