Thursday, October 23, 2008

Letter on small businesses


Dear Editor,

I couldn’t agree more with the sentiments of Mr K Williams’ correspondence regarding the imminent closure of Turtles.

For so long Turtles has flown the flag for independent retailers in the town centre. I too wonder which clone town operator will now end up replacing them on Park Street.

There is no doubt that with the dark clouds of the economic slowdown looming on the horizon, Croydon’s independent retailers are going to be under pressure to maintain their presence on our parades. This was clear to me earlier this year when I knocked on a few shops to ask for sponsorship for a community event. I found that most were tightening their belts. I am particularly fearful for the borough’s convenience stores. Yet, we see in the news that the profits of some major supermarket chains are soaring. In times of uncertainty shoppers are flocking to where they perceive value to be had. In actual fact, convenience stores are competitive in many lines.

The reality is that the dominance that supermarkets have in the retail sphere threatens the very existence of convenience stores. The government doesn’t help the situation by proposing to remove the ‘need’ test when considering planning applications for more out of town superstores and the small ‘in town’ convenience format of the major supermarkets. I was shocked to see another one of these open up on London Road (near Mayday hospital) with no doubt more to follow.

What is needed is a complete overhaul of the local business tax system in favour of independent retailers. More often then not, their profits stay in Croydon rather than disappearing to remote corporate headquarters. Our local businesses need assistance to get through this period of economic uncertainty and beyond in order to thrive on the boroughs’ high streets and parades. Whenever and wherever possible we must all try and support them.

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan
Croydon Green Party

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