Monday, 1 November 2010

Reversing the clone town trend in Reading

Following on from the New Economics Foundation's recent clone town report which placed Reading second in the league of clone towns across the UK, we have an item on the agenda for the Corporate, Community and External Affairs scrutiny panel on Wednesday.

The report has some recommendations on page 43.

What practical, concrete things would you like to see the council doing to reverse the clone town trend?


Anonymous said...

Hi Rob,
Looking down the list of points in RBC-CIC-BID response(s) to the NEF report, I notice that because the focus is nearly always on Central Reading (often the least affordable area to try and introduce a non-chain business/social enterprise), there is no mention of locally based social enterprise providing local produce in the community (such as True Food Community Co-op, traders at Rdg Farmer's Market including Earley Country Market etc).

Also no mention of Fairtrade - Reading is supposed to be a Fairtrade Town! - recognition (and visible support) at the very least of the many local independents working hard to supply and promote Fairtrade goods should be a priority.

No doubt much of this was missed by NEF simply beacuse so relatively little local authority/Rdg UK CIC/BID promotion and support of social enterprise, small business, independents etc appears to be on their radar or general 'development' agenda.

Chris A.

Adrian Windisch said...

Promote local shops, farmers markets or community ones like true food. use them or loose them.
Stop building yet more Tescos. Indeed campaign for the monopolies commission to beak up Tesco.
Persuade the council to charge higher rates for chain stores, reduced rates for small family run shops.
Use the empty shops rather than leave them derelict, perhaps for displays of art.

ajacobs said...

NEF have at least measured something we all know. Importantly they have identified actions that can be taken to support small businesses in particular.

I work for a successful 'clone' retailer so from my day job I would have to say that the reason they are successful is because they sell what people want. If you 'overly subsidise' small outlets then you encourage places that survive on lower turnovers , like 'boutique' or 'specialist' shops. St Albans, which rates very well in the NEF survey is a classic example of this. Reading does not have the same population profile as St Albans however!

What I think matters is that the complex arrangements of rent/rates etc are fair to all, allowing market forces to determine the best shops to survive. We love to hate Reading but people come from miles around to shop here because we have everything - you can't really have both worlds.

We must persuade the authorities that there is a problem first - I'll join your campiagn!