Turning us into Anytown

And so Greggs arrives to become the latest piece in making Matlock yet another soulless, identikit town. Of course market forces are what they are, but when the district council’s vision for the town amounts to facilitating the provision of yet another supermarket, it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that the council actually aspires to create one more example of Anytown Britain.

Of course there are limits to what the council can achieve, but it’s depressing to think that they are blinkered by the dubious attractions of big business.

How can any local trader hope to compete with those having the benefit of economies of scale of the size of Greggs, Sainsburys or the dreaded Tesco?

It’s all very well so say the small traders can make a selling point of providing a better service - but people will naturally take the easy route, and if Sainsburys and whichever other big supermarket comes along can offer, with council support, huge, free parking right at the shop door then the outcome is inevitable.

And why would any tourist bother stopping in Matlock to enjoy the delights of these big chains - when they can get exactly the same in any town in the country?

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but surely the council could facilitate the nurturing of smaller, independent businesses by giving them breaks with the rates, discouraging the big chains, and coming up with imaginative regeneration schemes that the whole town could get behind.

As it stands, the obsession with getting the big names into town gives the impression of being a high-handed slap in the face to local business.

Martin Pearce

Over Haddon