Never mind the pavements, what about the shops?

I WRITE in support of Dr Durrant s letter (July 23) as a fellow business owner and as a past district councillor for a St Neots ward. We opened our shop, Simmonds of St Ives, in May 2007 because we believed the town to be a place where we could do busine

I WRITE in support of Dr Durrant's letter (July 23) as a fellow business owner and as a past district councillor for a St Neots ward.

We opened our shop, Simmonds of St Ives, in May 2007 because we believed the town to be 'a place where we could do business'. After a year we still believe this to be the case but, as most people who are in business will probably acknowledge, trading conditions are tough and likely to become tougher in the short term.

With regard to Huntingdonshire District Council's proposals (plural because there appear to be several options in circulation) for St Ives town centre, I do not see how they will bring any competitive advantage either to the town or to the businesses within it.

Business is about providing customers with what they want, and anything that makes it difficult for them to access those goods and services will seriously damage business.


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As an analogy, why do we think people flock in their thousands daily to local out-of-town supermarkets? Is it because there are nice park benches outside the stores where families can enjoy a picnic, or is it perhaps more to do with the fact that the parking is free and customers can buy everything they might need in one place at prices they are happy to pay?

Independent shops and businesses can compete with the megastores, but only if the playing field is level. In a bare-knuckle fight we can give them a bloody nose in terms of service, quality and customer care, and we work our socks off to do so. But it must be realised that it doesn't matter how pretty the pavements are, if it costs too much to park and it's too difficult to access the shops, pubs, restaurants, estate agents, banks, post office and other facilities, people will simply not use them.

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DUNCAN SIMMONDS

Simmonds of St Ives

Market Hill

St Ives

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