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Michael Hughes of Grove Road, Hereford, says development will be just a clone
8:00am Tuesday 1st May 2012 in Letters
I ATTENDED the cabinet meeting of Herefordshire Council concerning the new retail development on Hereford's old cattle market, hoping to see democracy in action.
However, having read the illuminating front page story (Hereford Times, April 5) and been handed a secret report (“Deed of Variation”) by Councillor Hubbard on arrival – detailing some apparently commercially sensitive amendments that required debating in secret session – it was not a total surprise when, a few minutes into the meeting, the leader of Herefordshire Council asked the 50 or so members of the public to leave the room so these sensitive matters could be discussed in privacy.
I think he was rather taken aback when we refused, waving our copies of the “secret” report. The leader then asked the cabinet to move into a private chamber to carry on discussions in secrecy.
However Coin Hubbard and three other opposition councillors refused to do this and stayed behind with members of the public.
I do not believe this new retail development is the best one for Hereford. We were informed by Coun Phillips at the meeting that the only alternative looked at was to have a giant Tesco store on the site. There are, however, better alternatives that this council just ignores.
Money will largely go into the pots of major national stores rather than staying in Herefordshire. In addition, the deal agreed in secret will adversely affect the economic viability of High Town, potentially allowing developers to undercut High Town rents, poach existing tenants and get them to move to the new retail quarter.
Previously 11,000 signatures on a petition organised by It’s Our County said “no” to this new retail quarter – these have just been ignored by Herefordshire Council.
High Town is a vibrant shopping area with some interesting and well-liked independent shops.
Friends who visit us from other areas of the country are always impressed and enjoy shopping here.
The move to build a clone modern retail quarter will make Hereford like a lot of other high streets – characterless – and most importantly will split the city into two centres, something completely unnecessary and detrimental to the current centre.
MICHAEL HUGHES, Grove Road, Hereford