Battles will continue on our pages in 2012

The Mercury has always been the voice of the community and is there to fight battles on behalf of our readers.

This year we have put our strength behind efforts to put a stop to fly-tipping, improve allotment provision in the Dales and keep our town centres alive – as well as backign the major campaign to keep the Darley Birth Centre open.

‘Staying Alive’ – a bid to maintain the town’s vibrancy through the economic gloom.gave traders and shoppers a platform to voice their concerns and opinions.

In September the Mercury called on councils to slash car parking charges after Dales traders overwhelmingly cited the issue as their main problem.

They felt shoppers would rather head out of town and find somewhere to park for free, rather than pay up.

Another hot topic to rear its head recently was that of Matlock’s ailing market.

The Mercury highlighted the plight of traders at the Market Hall after it was announced that Derbyshire Dales District Council would be launching a review into the viability of Matlock, Bakewell and Wirksworth, looking at pitch fees, charges and the communication between traders and the council.

Traders, who have been asked to fill out a survey, fear that the dwindling market would eventually disappear, with just a handful of traders still open compared just a few years ago when up to 20 stallholders would regularly turn out.

A draft report of the survey will be discussed by the council in January, but there is concern that redevelopment of the site could finally call time on the market.

Meanwhile, the subject of rubbish reared its head unwanted head once again in 2011, prompting to Mercury to step up its ‘Fight the Fly-tippers’ campaign back in February.

Illegal dumping was reported across the Dales, spoiling the picturesque landscape in areas such as Tansley, Wessington, Cressbrook, Crich and Cavendish Fields at Matlock.

The nature of the crimes means catching those responsible can be difficult, but the campaign paid off in early December when one reader contacted Derbyshire Dales District Council about waste that had been dumped on Beeley Moor.

The offender was eventually traced and prosecuted which resulted in a £450.

However, the fight continues.

A week is a long time in newspapers, but that’s how long it took for a campaign by the Mercury to safeguard allotments in Matlock.

The Government had discussed abolishing a century-old right to allow people to demand an allotment from their council to help free up “burdensome” regulations affecting cash-strapped councils.

But as part of a backlash, the Mercury launched its campaign Allotments for All’ drive.

Just days later, it was pledged in the House of Commons that allotment sites would be protected.

More recently, it was announced that work was due to start on creating new plots on land near County Hall, Matlock in the coming weeks.

We will continue fightinf for the community in 2012 so watch this space.