Who was behind the major survey?

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Last October the Mercury reported that Derbyshire Dales District Council was set to pay consultants £18,710 to write an action plan to help independent traders survive the recession.

Councillors decided Roger Tym and Partners should hold face-to-face interviews with 185 traders in Matlock, Bakewell, Wirksworth and Ashbourne.

Council leader Cllr Lewis Rose said at the time: “We know some independent retailers are struggling at the moment and that is a matter for concern, because these businesses provide the uniqueness and richness that is so attractive to visitors to the Dales and those who live here.”

Richard Short, of Matlock Business Group, said he thought it was a good idea to consult smaller businesses but feared the process was “ten years out of date”.

Wirksworth traders also doubted if the report would make a significant impact.

Planning chief Paul Wilson said traders were facing abnormally difficult trading conditions.

He said no other quotations for the report have been sought, but the contract offered value for money due to Roger Tym and Partners’ unique knowledge of the area and proven track record.

The survey questionnaire was designed in consultation with council officers who sought to engage local interest groups.

A council spokesman said: “The purpose of the assessment was to gain a better understanding of the trading conditions facing independent traders in order that the council together with other public and private sector partners could seek to identify positive actions that could be taken to improve the independent sector where possible.”