From Cliff Bennett, Yarmouth:

The Isle of Wight Council has proudly announced it is investing a few thousand to re-invent the centre of Newport (CP, 25/01/19).

This would consist of a few pretty signs, a bit of fancy pavement and more pedestrianisation, so it becomes a sort of bijou meeting point for Islanders and visitors.

They proudly claim only 11 per cent of shops are empty in Newport, neglecting, of course, to mention of premises that are open 70 per cent are charity shops, coffee shops, barbers, fast-food outlets, takeaways and nail bars.

The actual number of trading retail outlets is less than 20 per cent and most of those are a part of mainland chains.

So far this term, to help the small retailer, they have massively hiked business rates and are going to introduce paid parking in the few remaining free parking areas, which will further serve to drive the motorists away.

There are also plans for another supermarket on the site of the new football ground, one at Westridge and three more at sites still to be decided.

In the past 20 years, any supermarket chain that has been prepared to hand over a fistful of money and fund a local amenity, has been given carte-blanche to do anything it wants.

Tesco has doubled the size of its store, Sainsbury’s likewise and Morrisons at Lake is in the build stage to do the same.

Pleading poverty, successive Island councils have sold the Island’s soul, but the final nail in the coffin was allowing Asda to come, even though the council kept them waiting for two years and offered a take-it or-leave-it knock-down price, it was accepted.

Asda was always going to be a supermarket too far, with their aggressive marketing style they are not prepared to co-exist, they want it all.

The others have been forced to respond in all marketing areas, or fall behind on trading.

One could, of course, say this is good news for the customer but bad news for the small trader — but who cares about them?

Apparently nobody!

Editor’s footnote: Newport and Carisbrooke Parish Council increased its precept to pay for improvements to the town. Other funding for the Shaping Newport project is, as yet, unknown.