Economic forecasts – whether predicting changes in the UK, Europe or the whole world – are universally bleak.
British householders (especially pensioners) have never had to endure such straightened conditions in peacetime.
There are now more than 200 charity food banks in the UK, with new ones opening at the rate of one a week.
The construction industry and its cousin the commercial property development sector are in the doldrums, with a virtual nationwide freeze on major city centre retail developments.
Yet Herefordshire Council, alone, plans to initiate its much-vaunted £80 million Edgar Street Grid shopping development on the empty site of the old livestock market, designed by Stanhope plc and funded by British Land.
Press reports and cabinet and council meetings over the last six months have recorded innumerable contractual changes which these developers have wrung from your council, from alterations to site boundaries to long-term purchasing options. It has been a one-way traffic in concessions.
Now we learn that Stanhope and British Land want you to lift the restriction against them encouraging established city centre traders to move to the Edgar Street Grid.
Here, they clearly have the big-name multinationals in their sights. This would, we believe, sign the death knell of High Town and the knock on effect on traders in Broad Street and St Owen Street would be catastrophic.
Your cabinet is now under pressure to approve this major amendment.
The thinly-veiled threat by one of the developers, reported last week, makes chilling reading.
This would be an utterly foolhardy move, which the people of Herefordshire would never forgive you for and from which this city might takes decades to recover.
The alternative – to refuse the developers’ latest demands (which, privately, many Conservative members of your administration probably know is the ‘honourable option’) – might result in the Edgar Street Grid being ‘mothballed’ for the foreseeable future. But Herefordians would applaud your candour and respect your integrity.
Now is surely the time for a reasonable administration to be preparing realistic alternative uses for this highly-prized city asset.
This is Breadline Britain, Cllr Jarvis, not Never Never Land.
Brian and Mary Caldicutt,
Peter and Marjorie Cocks,