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Critical Response to Expert's View on Tesco PDF Print E-mail
Supermarket Debate
Written by Ian & Caroline Handley   
Saturday, 24 September 2011 09:58

We read with horror and disgust the report in your paper [Ledbury Reporter and the Ledbury Community Portal website] about an “award winning business expert’s” view of the proposed Sainsbury out-of-town supermarket for Ledbury. The views of Mr Michael Lever show a breath-taking misunderstanding of the way town centres work and a horrific callousness to the fate of enterprises affected by this proposal.


Handley Organics on Ledbury PortalAs a ‘self-employed commercial property surveyor’ we don’t suppose he has ever had to trade on a normal town street and is presumably unaware of the physical, financial and emotional investment we small traders put in to our enterprises and he seems perfectly content for us and our hard work to be swept away by the juggernaut of a massive, avaricious concern such as the modern supermarket, and we make this point with such passion because our award winning shops which do trade successfully and which we have worked every hour the good Lord sends to stock and staff - would be two of the shops not only put at risk, but we can say with good authority, probably doomed. We say with good authority because we know from friends and colleagues who have been traders in small towns, of the devastating effects of out-of-town developments.

For all Mr Lever’s expertise he seems to be blissfully unaware of the true effects of out-of-town developments which is to slowly strangle the trading part of any town until most shops who trade die a slow lingering death. The reason for this is simple, when a large one-stop shop such as this opens, the customer drives there, parks, shops and leaves, they very seldom park, shop and then drive to another place in the town to shop in the high street, if he is unaware of this undoubtedly true statement his expertise is questionable as is his attitude which blandly sentences ‘a dozen or so town-centre shops’ to such a sad end and to be replaced with what exactly??

And what of these ‘dozen or so town-centre shops’ heartlessly dismissed by Mr lever, what of their staff and suppliers and the whole chain of business’s who rely on these shops and others like them - dead or dying, but never mind we can always get a job at the supermarket.

If the residents of Ledbury who want this development are to make an equitable judgement on its merits then they need to accept that Ledbury High Street will change for ever, shops will close and they will perhaps be replaced with charity shops etc., or more likely be left empty to slowly deteriorate, this is what happens. It is not biased scaremongering, and if the residents who want it are prepared to accept this for their town then so be it, but please don’t be tempted in 4 or 5 years’ time to complain that Ledbury is a dump because ‘there’s nothing in it any more’ because you will have made your choice and will have to live with it!!

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 November 2011 13:59
 
Comments (7)
Withdrawing
7 Monday, 26 September 2011 19:01
After recieving some rather surprising news I am withdrawing from any further comments on this thread, just in case they are taken to mean more than they do.
Handley Organics - a case history in the the art of alienating a regular customer
6 Monday, 26 September 2011 10:17
Michael Lever
When I lived in London and instead of going to any number of supermarkets nearby I used to drive 30 miles (not an expedition to be embarked upon lightly in London traffic!) to a small health food to do my weekly food shop. I was very much the sort of regular customer a health-food shop yearns for. Not being able to buy in Ledbury the sort of food we eat, we opened a small shop in the hope of also attracting like-minded people. We did and more than we expected so when we voluntarily closed (as was the intention all long) I had hoped, notwithstanding Handley Organics vain attempt at destroying our venture, to redirect our spending elsewhere in Ledbury and until 09:57 Saturday 24 September 2011 some of that spend went regularly to Handley Organics.

However, in the light of their comments I think it best that rather than continue to support their business that I take our custom elsewhere.
Reply To Mr Harrison
5 Sunday, 25 September 2011 16:13
I AGAIN refer to the point of businesses having to adapt their plans, its what all decent businesses do in order to maintain their customer base ... its simple, change or die.
Constructive Response to the criticism by Handley Organics of my views
4 Sunday, 25 September 2011 15:29
Michael Lever
Ian & Caroline Handley suggest my views "show a breath-taking misunderstanding of the way town centres work". For their benefit and others that may also be concerned, I am enlarging upon the views to assist in arriving at a balanced perspective.

Although I gave the the reporter a copy of my comment on the Tesco application to Herefordshire Council, unfortunately, some of the content in the article in Ledbury Reporter omits material information.

I am a commercial property surveyor specialising in retail property throughout England and Wales. I have been involved in the commercial property market for more than 40 years, clients comprise multiple retailers, independent shopkeepers/local traders, charities, and landlords. Until 1973, I worked for one of the UK’s leading town planning consultants and was involved with planning applications/appeals for major shopping centres developments including Brent Cross Shopping Centre, London NW, Eldon Square, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and a scheme in Saffron Walden. Also, I contribute to professional wisdom and market intelligence and for more than 25 years through my publications I have written about shop property and trends in retailing, and my letters and articles appear in leading property and law journals and retail industry magazines. (When I first opened a Twitter account, Mary Portas was one of my followers!) In 1995, I was awarded a prize for my essay on the Future of Town Centres and Retailing in a competition sponsored by Marks & Spencer. About 7 years ago, I gave a talk to Ledbury and District Civic Society on the influences on shopping centres with special reference to Ledbury; approximately 80 people attended the talk. Since my work entails shop property ranging from primary trading positions in city centres, in and out-of-town shopping malls, factory outlets to neighbourhood parades and local roads in villages, and I am privy to retailer strategies, I have extensive experience of the impact of supermarket developments on ‘High Streets’ and Town Centres. Therefore, I am of the opinion that my views and comments in connection with the application contribute constructively and objectively.

Also, I may be in an unusual position on two counts. Firstly, the owner of the application site has on occasions availed of my professional services and in the course of my work I act regularly against Tesco. Secondly I have experience of managing a small shop in Ledbury. From 2003 until 2008 and in my spare time I was a partner in the running of The Rice Cake, organic grocers, later renamed Muse Organix the skin-care centre, in Homend Mews, The Homend. People shopped with us from miles around, including Birmingham, Cardiff, London, Winchester, and Marlborough. We invested in designing a lovely shop that was a pleasure to visit, and we beat supermarkets, and the Internet, on price.


I first visited Ledbury during the early 1960s and later during 1980s, and in 1993 I moved here. During my time in Ledbury, I have served on the committee of five local organisations and societies. I live just a few minutes walk of the application site and within earshot, and if the planning consent is given, then unlike the Handleys that live about 13 miles from Ledbury I should be personally affected by any adverse consequences, such as increased traffic, light pollution, and noise, at all hours of the day every day year in year out.

Anyone can apply for planning permission even if they don’t own or have any interest in the property. In my opinion, there is no point in making irrelevant comments because they cut no ice so I think it more important to consider the merits of the proposal rather than the applicant. If the planning application were approved then Tesco would not have to go ahead with the development, they could just keep the consent in abeyance and renew it on expiry or even sell the proposition to someone else. Whether that would be highly unlikely is irrelevant; fact is the actual applicant may do as it likes and so I think there is no point in focussing on whether it would be good or not for there to be a larger Tesco on the outskirts of Ledbury, but rather whether it would be good or not for there to be any planning permission granted for a supermarket on the outskirts of Ledbury.

I have spent a good deal of time on considering the proposal including carrying out my own research and in the light of opinions and views expressed by others, including long-established local businesses, on balance I think it would be good for Ledbury to have its own out-of-town supermarket. I have written a comprehensive report, approximately 11,000 words, and to provide (free of charge) to Herefordshire Council. For my comment on the application, I sent a summary to the Planning Officer at Herefordshire Council, and by email a slide-show presentation to Herefordshire Council Planning Committee Councillors, also members of Ledbury Town Council, also Ledbury Reporter and other relevant parties.

I have been a wholefood organic vegetarian for almost 30 years, long before it became popular, so have an affinity for healthy living, so much so that also in my spare time I have dispensed marketing advice to self-employed therapists, natural health centres, etc as well as setting up a Healthy Living Centre in London with workshops on alternative subjects, also I am experienced counsellor. (For many years, I owned the company Healthy Living Ltd, until I lost the ownership through bad advice from a previous accountant.) Amongst my property clientele, I advise two long-established health-food businesses. Politically, I was for a while a member of the Green Party. I am well aware of the gamut of ‘Green’ issues, from deep ecology and unconditional interdependency, to using arnica for easing a shock or eradicating a bruise.

I forgive Ian & Caroline Handley if they were unaware of my credentials. However, on the matters they further criticise, I think that some facts and further comment necessary.

Anyone with a smattering of knowledge of Ledbury history would surely know that the number of shops in Ledbury more than duplicating one another’s goods and services is amazing. During the 1930s, for example, there were some 16 grocers. However, despite that amount of duplication, according to the Handleys and a few others by coincidence also customers of hers and predecessors there is only room in Ledbury for one health-food shop.

In 1993, when I moved to Ledbury, the health-food shop at 82 The Homend was run by the person that had started the business originally. Shortly afterwards, Sheila Burns took over the business and I suggested she might like to stock a couple of items that I bought regularly. Sheila obliged but after a while stopped because the items were not being bought by others as well because the prices were thought expensive. After Sheila sold the business to Alice and her partner, broadly the same quality of health-foods continued. I don’t know when she started but Caroline Handley could be found selling organically-grown vegetables from a stall by the Market House. I did buy the occasional item from her, despite concern at a lack of hygiene in her handling of produce and coins.

[Unless you are a devotee or purist of health-foods it may come as a surprise to learn that there are variable qualities of health-foods. How discerning you are is a matter of individual taste and concern, but basically when you read the small print on the label, and provided you know what you are looking for, a lot of so-called ‘health foods’ do not stand up to scrutiny. ]

When we were formulating our ideas, we had two plans. We implemented plan B first. In 2003, when we opened The Rice Cake, having refurbished an empty shop in Homend Mews, the health-food industry was in the early stages of more organic products coming onto the market so to differentiate our ideas we described The Rice Cake as organic grocers. That didn’t stop others calling it a health-food shop! From the moment we opened we attracted customers. Many people told us they didn’t like the other health-food shop. Although often the shop looked as though hardly anyone came in, when they did they spent a lot. At that time the health-food industry average spend per customer was around £5, our average spend was well over £50 and often more than £100.

Customers loyal to the health-food shop at 82 The Homend clearly bought from us because next thing we discovered was that 82 had contacted one of our suppliers and was stocking the same products. Fair enough, that’s competition. Even so, when a shop buys from suppliers often there is a minimum order value which means the shop has a capital outlay that can only recouped by selling enough of the items before the sell-by date. It’s a cash-flow challenge that can be somewhat expensive if you get your sums wrong. Thanks to our discount pricing, our cash flow was also feasible when we didn’t stock an item to order it especially for a customer. When we didn’t stock an item or we couldn’t order, we’d recommend the customer try the health food shop (82). By then the Handleys had taken over the business at 82 and feed-back from customers we’d recommended was that the other health-food shop was telling people that advice we were giving was wrong, those customers shouldn’t buy from us, and stemming from Alice’s time word also was put about that we were unfriendly and so on.

Some of the practicalities involved in setting up a shop from scratch and running it were a steep learning curve but after a while, having got the hang of things generally, we decided to implement plan A. Rather than leave customers in a lurch, I wrote to the owner of Wyedean Healthfoods, an expanding chain of health-food shops, and suggested they might like to open a branch in Ledbury. They obliged, all our food customers promptly migrated, I renamed our shop Muse Organix, the skin care centre, changed the website, and devoted the entire shop to natural and organic skin-care products.

I never intended to run the shop indefinitely. In anticipation of a sharp downturn in the market I wanted to close the business before being proved right but we continued a while longer until the end of our tenancy. It was a close-run thing, by August 2008 the storm clouds of downturn were on the horizon and some of our higher-sales regular customers were cutting back on spending. Again, rather than leave our customers in the lurch, we invited regular customers to buy and/or order up to a year’s supply of products and gave them a substantial discount. A week or so before Christmas 2008 when I held a ‘closing’ sale for the public and non-regular customers most of the stock had been sold, and the rest flew off the shelves within days.

In 2009, the downturn hit. Wyedean closed their shop in Bye Street. Around that time, Bob, the man that had sold dried fruit and nuts under the Market House for about 15 years stopped doing so. Ian & Caroline Handley ended up with the only health-food shop in Ledbury.

When a business has a monopoly, one would think, at least I would, that the business would have established itself so firmly in the hearts and minds of customers that it would be in an invincible position to combat any threat perceived from the possibility of a (Tesco) supermarket out of town in Ledbury. Judging by Ian & Caroline Handley’s comments about how hard-working they are and that they could be doomed if residents don’t accept what they say suggests the Handleys may have got the trading formula wrong for Ledbury.

In the course of my work, I encounter many smaller shopkeepers that are fond of making statements about the market as a whole as if their own experience should be considered a barometer of shopper behaviour. Ledbury is a small market town with a distinguished heritage and has survived through difficult periods during its long history. Retailers come and go and just because Handley Organics have had Soil Association certification for 15 years and see themselves as “trustees of the land and everything has to be taken into account” does not mean they should have any more of a right to survival as a business, at least not in its present form. The formula for successful business is to have a target market and for customers want to willingly support the business through thick and think, come what may. For customers in the target market, in this case the health-food and associated products market, willing support comes about through a desire to be helpful in all that the business stands for. What customers do not like is to be told off and that is precisely what Ian & Caroline Handley are doing by getting stroppy.

A challenge for any small shop is how best to accommodate a range of products in an attractive way. Of all businesses of the health-food shop at 82 The Homend, Handley Organics have, in my opinion, made the best use (so far) of the space available. However, the appearance of the fixtures, and machinery equipment, refrigeration, cash register, etc could do with an upgrade. It is all very well trading on the cheap - for example the business rates are low, about £1600 a year before relief, compared to almost twice as much for the premises I had in Homend Mews - and for operational costs to be contained, but the profit margin on greengrocery prices is about 100% and grocery items about 40% so even allowing for costs one would expect the business to be trading profitably.

On the food front, I suggest the problem is pricing and assortment. There is no doubt that competition from supermarkets in the health-food sector has intensified over the years. The type of customer expected to shop in a small health food shop is loyal: it is the nature of the health-food industry and association with all things ‘Green’. Even so, there is no point I suggest in the business contributing to that competition. The brand that Handley Organics have chosen to stock at 82 The Homend is the very same brand that I introduced to Ledbury as part of the overall quality at The Rice Cake. It is a high-quality brand from one of leading suppliers in the UK. It is also a premium price, a luxury item if you like, whereas with respect the overall standard at Handley Organics, 82 The Homend all the little extras that make for a premium-priced shopping experience is not on a par. It is useful to remember there were for a short time three health-food shops in Ledbury, but whereas the brand that suited The Rice Cake customers was too pricey for a lot of people in Ledbury, and since Handley Organics have copied my idea, nowadays those customers that were effectively disaffected by the prices are most likely shopping elsewhere where prices are lower (probably in one of the supermarkets). Similarly for assortment: by limiting the range mostly to that one brand, lesser quality items are not available. Again, there are lot of people in Ledbury whose taste and concern differs from the ethos of that one brand. Based on obsolete figures, I estimate Handley Organisations could well be missing out on approximately £3000 a week turnover through not stocking items needed by many people in Ledbury.

As for the other shop, The Apothecary Shop, again many of the brands stocked there I introduced to Ledbury. Selling skin-care products requires a different mentality to health-foods: there is much more personal service (which means you have to excel at service) and you have to be a good advert for your product. With skin-care a shopkeeper really has to know the products inside-out, and be able to sift out the overpriced/under-effective; all that takes years of training, usage and research. Wherever possible, we had testers or trial sizes for every single product. When I introduced the super-brand, Dr Hauschka, we dominated demand for miles around and because customers of other health-food shops in the region were buying from us that those other shops became stockists, but that didn’t stop customers coming to us because we couldn’t be beaten on price.

The profit potential in rapid growth in demand for natural and organic skin-care products has attracted many competitors, and again the supermarkets are actively engaged. Quite apart from the sheer number of virtually identical products on the market, which means the capital outlay for small shops has to be balanced carefully against the chances of a quick sale, many suppliers compete with stockists by selling direct to customers on-line, with special offers and generally a further-off use-by date than in a shop.

Natural and organic skin-care products have to prove their worth to the user as well as being superb value for money. Nowadays, customers are minimising expenditure through mix and match between inferior and better quality brand-names. Natural and organic skin-care products are a premium product and in a different sector of the market to the health-food industry. Much of what I have heard from others in Ledbury about the shopping experience at The Apothecary Shop is not as good as it should or could be, bearing in mind that for the most part it is a continuation of many of the ideas that I introduced to Ledbury. I am a regular user of organic skin-care products buying for myself, family and friends and I think it’s a sad reflection on the standard of care that I have experienced at The Apothecary Shop that nowadays I only buy on-line direct from the suppliers.

During the past 20 years or so, a trend in Ledbury has been for the shops that have opened to replace those closed to be of a higher quality. I interpret the difference as the growing importance of Ledbury as a tourist town, together with a more cosmopolitan population as a result of the housing development boom. During recent years, many of the small traders that have opened a shop or bought an existing business have done so to cash in on what appears to be a thriving Town Centre. Fair enough, retailing is entrepreneurial, but whilst not suggesting the traders not on the receiving end of profitable demand or not attracting enough customers have no right to complain, especially now that it looks as though things could change, I do think they should be very careful about what they say, the manner in which it is said, and to whom.

One of the things about Ledbury’s psyche that may not be immediately apparent, particular to those that do not live in Ledbury and/or not involved in community activities after the shops are shut, is that the subtle aspects of the transactional relationship between customer and proprietor and/or shop staff can act as a deterrent. Small shops cannot afford to alienate customers, or they can then they should not whinge when they do. Ledbury is not like a large town or city where the loss of customers here and there is no big deal: Ledbury works on an informal network of chit-chat, gossip and word getting round between people that know one another for all sorts of reasons, so the thing that really matters whenever a shopkeeper or member of staff is serving each and every customer is that to enjoy the goodwill of the Ledbury community it is vital the customer should leave the shop and return home feeling that their importance as a customer is respected. Get that attitude wrong and gradually the entire business will do down the pan.

As to the merits of the application, the Ledbury community is uncertain: noticeably only 5 out of 15 Ledbury Town Councillors are firmly against the application. Amongst many locals, quality of life does not mean, for example, walking into town on a Saturday morning to buy some meat, cheese, and croissant, a bottle of wine and returning to a comfy deckchair on the lawn of their home away from the hubbub. For Ledbury, the local economy is not all about pandering to tourists or the somewhat fanciful and romantic idea of the rural countryside as imagined by ex-urban dwellers and Sunday newspaper magazine, so the survival of a dozen or so shopkeepers whose choice of products and price range is out of kilter with Ledbury reality is not as important for the local economy as the thought of a major supermarket wanting to invest millions of pounds in Ledbury and offering job prospects, and contributing to the prosperity and sustainability of many companies in Ledbury whose own customers include major supermarkets.

Like Ian & Caroline Handley, I am used to working 8 days a week but amongst the many things where we differ is in attitude. In my philosophy, all criticism is helpful. So whilst a short reply to their criticism could be ‘thank you for confirming my views’, this long reply is intended to be constructive.
The High Street
3 Sunday, 25 September 2011 14:28
martin dudley
Ledbury needs to change and change soon - It's already dieing and why?

Because it does absolutely nothing in catering for and providing for the younger generation - As with any community in any county, province or country the young are the future and it's clear for all to see that Ledbury has nothing to keep them, the younger, interested - It is a high street full of shops that are offering either overpriced, non essential or just plain old fashioned items that offer no come and get me incentive or interest.......

The most important thing for Ledbury traders to concentrate on now is the continued use of Tesco car park - lose that and it could well be a case of up a creek without a paddle, that luxury suggests that the local traders need tesco at its current site more than they may well be prepared to admit.

And it's not just the locals either that are put off from venturing into town - Look at the by-pass, absolutely nothing bar a small standard sign or two pointing to the town centre and on the busiest roundabouit of them all stands an eyesore if ever there was an eyesore, that that used to be The Full Pitcher public house, now standing unkept and uninviting to all and sundry - hardly a recommendation to visit the town centre!

And then there's the decision by many independant shops not to open outside of recognised Monday/Saturday trading - the last bank holiday weekend was a fine example of what Ledbury traders do not do, on the Sunday just 5 shops were open of which 1 closed at lunchtime and another was a cafe, the following day being August Bank Holiday Monday and recognised as Ledburys biggest day of the year regarding visitors and footfall within the town centre and only 7 shops open, not including the nationally recognised Boots, Spar and One Stop - poor poor marketing and a choice that is obviously taken by the traders themselves but you cannot have it all ways though you seemingly want it that way. You reap what you sow and if you choose not to invite business on days of hustle and bustle when the town centre is full you desrve little in recompense.I use the word 'you' in general terms and not on a personal basis.

Ask 1 of your neighbouring LOCAL local traders who runs a business much like yours and the response is that the majority of customers are elderly and more affluent than the majority of Ledburys population, that same trader recognises that as a business they cannot compete with the big 5 supermarkets and instead adops a marketing policy that ensures they keep their current base of custom and through their PR and custommer friendly attitude attracts new customers too, either by word of mouth or directly in person. It's a sad fact that many of Ledburys shop owners are simply not very customer friendly - some of the LOCAL local traders are now being ostracized by simply refusing to contribute £100 towards 'printing costs' etc for LOTS, these same LOCAL local traders are actually the same few who have traded in Ledbury for many, many years, recognise what the locals want and do not wish to alienate a loyal customer base by offering support to a group intent on spinning propaganda based on assumption etc. Not 1 piece of information provided by LOTS can actually be viewed and used as hard concrete evidence, not 1 statement offers anything other than supposition that a new supermarket in Ledbury will have a detrimental effect on the high street - All I see and hear are slightly more than a handful of traders who are attempting to protect their own interests, (and rightly so to some extent, I think it's called human nature) with scant regard for the local population. LOTS really are in danger of cutting their noses to spite their faces andit will only be a matter of time before Tesco withdraw their usage of some 130 car parking spaces as a free for all - if the traders and town centre lose that luxury then you may well suffer.

On a side note I can assure you that competition in the shape of the big 5 is not all bad, my close friend is a fishmonger in a West Midlands town that saw 2 major supermarkets open on his doorstep, much like the proposed in Ledbury, his net profits have risen to be in excess of £200k/annum and in a shop with floorspace equivalent to that of Handley Organics - so successful is he that the shop trades just three days a week.

As it is I have veered away from Tescos plans and now fully support Sainsbury plans etc - more choice and affordability, cheaper fuel and a very good reason not to jump in my car every week to shop elsewhere. A sure fire addition to Ledbury that will see an increase in people choosing to visit and shop here as opposed to making trips from neighbouring rural outlying villages and communities to neighbouring towns and cities that do currently offer that same choice and affordability under 1 roof. If Sainsbury can encourage the younger families etc here in Ledbury to stay close to home to do their major shopping then that can only be deemed as good for the high street, any incresae in footfall is better than what we are witnessing now with families choosing Malvern, Hereford, Worcester and Gloucester. It is upto the local independants to market themselves accordingly to invite and then maintain a new customer base, these younger families are the future elderly that the same LOCAL local trader speaks of as being a major part of the current customer base.

May I finally add just 1 published quote from a fellow local trader....if you care to ask around some of your neighbouring store owners, particuarly some of those that us locals recognise as locals you'll discover that this ladys' comments are certainly not unique

"I fear that a minority of people against the superstores are dictating to the majority in favour" - (Lindsay Jackson, Ledbury Books and Maps.)
Cherry Picking
2 Sunday, 25 September 2011 11:43
Andrew Harrison
Mr Marschall, you have accused LOTS of cherry picking facts from the internet and reports (although there are an awful lot of cherries). Do you agree with all self-proclaimed expert Mr Lever has said, such as the dozen or so shops which will go to the wall?
What if they were 3 butchers, two grocers, Co-Op, stationers, 2 bakers, off licence, 2 sweet shops and Wellworthit...ok so I make it 13....anymore you would like to nominate?
Critical Response to Expert's View on Tesco
1 Sunday, 25 September 2011 10:53
Why oh why do these same old scare tactics keep being raised, the same tactics that were used when the current Tesco's was proposed or the CO-OP was proposed or when Leadon Bank was proposed and when the cattle market was closed. You only have to look over the hill towards Malvern to see that out of town developments do not have to lead to the demise of the high street, Malvern as a whole has three distinct high streets being Barnards Green, Great Malvern and Malvern Link each of these are vibrant buzzing places (more so than Ledbury's) and yet they have Morrisons, Waitrose, etc etc. I know six traders spread across the three high streets and all but one have said that yes there was a fall in trade when the retail park first opened, but that is no longer the case, they have actually seen an increase in footfall. As a business you must know that in order to maintain your customer base you have to adjust your business plan, you can't force people to remain in status quo just because it suits you. Mr Lever's comments are a relevant as any anti comments and it is a matter of fact that shops come and go even without out of town stores, you only have to look at Ledbury high street now to see the changes over the last 10 years or if you wish over the last 30 years that I have been a resident here. While I respect your point of view it seems it is more about safe guarding your own business interests that what is good and right for the majority of Ledbury's residents.