Council back plans to save Dales towns

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Councillors have pledged to take action to save our town centres.

Last week the Mercury reported the long-awaited results of a survey of the area’s independent traders.

The results showed that car parking charges and provision were the biggest issues facing the future of shopping locally in Matlock, Bakewell, Wirksworth and Ashbourne.

At a meeting last Thursday Derbyshire Dales District Council discussed the findings and agreed to put in place a host of measures to help struggling business bosses.

Cllr Sue Burfoot said: “I think we need to take the findings of this survey really seriously.

“We seem to have been talking about this for a long time and we have a major problem with parking and parking charges so I’m more than pleased to see a review of the pricing structure for car parks.”

Last October Derbyshire Dales District Council paid consultants £18,710 to write an action plan to help independent traders.

Face-to-face interviews were held with 174 traders asking them what could be done to help boost business.

Council leader Lewis Rose said: “I think the council should be commended for undertaking this work.

“One thing that is disappointing apart from the obvious difficulties all face with car parking, is businesses don’t welcome any schemes themselves to promote the town. I don’t think that is the council’s job.

“Business have their own responsibility.”

Planning chief Paul Wilson added: “We will do all we can to bring about confidence in the town centre but it’s not just about the council.

“The disappointing thing with Matlock in particular, is their is little appetite for them to do anything themselves.”

The results of the survey also showed that most Dales traders do not welcome more supermarkets in their towns and Matlock businesses felt Sainsbury’s has had a negative impact.

Cllr Bob Cartwright said: “Any further provision of supermarkets will create more damage to local retailing sector.

“This is an important message we have to bear in mind.”

Councillors voted in favour of officers’ recommendations to review parking provision and pricing and to promote town centres by 2012-2013.