Thursday, 11 July 2013

Striking The Wrong Chord

Cllr John McMillan (Platform, Evening News, 8 July) says the national review of town centres “strikes a chord” in East Lothian. It certainly does. Our town centres have been neglected by a local authority happy to roll over for big business.
 
The review calls for public bodies to support town centres before considering development elsewhere, and to broaden the appeal of town centres. Our local authority is doing the exact opposite.
 
For example, cllr McMillan talks of efforts to stimulate Haddington town centre. He neglects to mention the local authority gave planning permission for an out of town supermarket. He took a similar decision, against official advice, in Prestonpans just six weeks ago.
 
He says Musselburgh will be the beneficiary of regeneration funding. He neglects to mention only £900,000 has been set aside for the whole of East Lothian compared to a pledge by the previous administration of £1 million specifically for Musselburgh.
 
I hope his optimism rubs off on his administration colleague John Caldwell who has said of plans for a Musselburgh town square to boost trade: "This is not the continent. We don't wantpeople sitting outside having coffee in the elements.”
 
Not Musselburgh
Cllr McMillan would also do well to look at the biggest issue for Musselburgh town centre - traffic congestion. The resulting air pollution is quite serious yet I see no proposal from the council for traffic reduction.
 
He says East Lothian Council’s first objective is to increase economic growth. Why growth? Why not fairness? Simply pursuing more of the same means more profits for shareholders and executives based elsewhere, and an uneven playing field for the local guys. Supporting independent traders, making better use of the council’s procurement budget and getting rid of parasitic payday lenders would strike the right chord for East Lothian’s town centres.
 
All we’re getting at the moment are bum notes.

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