Thursday, 20 November 2008

Clampdown on displays

[From The Cambrian News, Thu 16 Oct 08, p5]

As the article above mentions, there has been a clampdown by Ceredigion County Council, threatening fines for shops which have displays on the pavement.

Towns which have independent shops are more interesting, and keep money in the local economy. Over the years Aberystwyth has lost a lot of independent shops due to being unable to compete with chains and supermarkets, which is a great shame. However Chalybeate Street has fantastic independent shops the town can be proud of - a baker, hardware shop, health shop, hairdresser and greengrocers, amongst others.

The council have been putting pressure on the independent greengrocers (W. Morris and Son, 15 Chalybeate Street) not to display their produce outside the shop, even though it is not only traditional for greengrocers to do that, but it makes the street much more vibrant and interesting to see such a display. Government policy and common sense states that people should eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, so displaying them in this tempting fashion benefits the town in other ways. Perhaps a shop like the greengrocers should pay less rent for the valuable services it provides - rent that could be made up by charging junk food outlets like Burger King the extra, to make up for the fact that they sell unhealthy food and their packaging often litters the streets.

Once again the Council is acting in a negative manner, in threatening to force a greengrocers not to display their wares outside. If it is because of lack of space on the pavement then that is the fault of the council for not pedestrianising Aberystwyth - something that should have been done long ago. They should not threaten the livelihood of such a great shop due to a failing of the County Council to curb car use.

In the interest of fairness CIN contacted the County Council, and we will include the response from the Assistant Director of Engineering (Tuesday, October 07):

"The County Council has adopted a policy for controlling items on pavements within the County. The intention is to achieve a good balance between safety, accessibility ambience and attractiveness to shoppers and in many ways to embrace the ideas you have expressed. This is a large county and what the result of the policy will be in individual streets is far from clear and it will be some time before it is clarified. However when we do address individual areas we will do so sensitively and with a good deal of consultation to achieve the balance we all desire to provide an attractive and safe town centre. There will undoubtedly be some difficult areas and these will have to be considered having regard to the history."

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