THE FREE TOWN GUIDE ABOUT CHARD FOR CHARD
PRODUCED QUARTERLY: SUMMER • AUTUMN • WINTER • SPRING
A fundamental aim of The Chard Flyer is to promote Chard, and the region around this great town, and put a positive “spin” on change and development, promoting them as opportunities. However, we also have a duty to recognise, and highlight any adverse impact upon the established dynamics of the town. Particularly if it is perceived that Chard Town Council, and South Somerset District Council are not helping our town and residents.
Anecdotal evidence from bus drivers using the bus stop in Boden Street several times a day reveal a decrease in parked cars, and a rise in vacant parking spaces. My own visits to Boden Street confifirm this, which is alarming when compounded with the loss of parking spaces previously available for up to 90 minutes in the
private carpark, formerly provided by Lidls, and now closed. This could amount to 75 less vehicles visiting Boden Street EVERY HOUR!
There were assurances from Town and District Councils that the move of Lidls would only happen once a suitable replacement to occupy the Boden Street store was secured. The reality is a boarded- up building, a town centre carpark blocked with concrete monoliths; - to put it bluntly an absolute “eyesore” to greet visitors to our town. And where are our “political” leaders? Sadly, absent from any public dialogue, or demonstration of concern for town centre shoppers and businesses .
Historically, the root cause may go back over 20 years, when SSDC employed barristers at the public enquiry in Chard Guildhall, to successfully resist objections to Tesco opening, an edge-of-town superstore in Tapstone Road. This created a dangerous precedent, which of course Lidls have exploited.
But where does this leave town centre residents, who are on foot and rely on some comparison shopping? One hopes that Sainsburys and our independent butchers and convenience shops have picked up more trade.
Equally, where does it leave other town centre businesses, already coping with the national decline in retail visitors to their stores?
Our town has so much to offer, please continue to support our independent businesses.
Editorial Comment: The Chard Flyer have listened to a number of locals, with opinions about what is wrong in our Town, and how our Town should progress.
Unfortunately many of these comments and complaints are echoed throughout the country – a High Street in decline with less people shopping locally. there is much cynicism regarding The Chard Regeneration Plans, and whether these really address the needs of townspeople. Leisure and fitness facilities? There are at least 3 providers already in the town. Swimming pool? Kingfifisher was very popular, so let us hope a new swimming facility will be well supported. Cafes? How much coffee and cake can one town consume? Shops? Where will the shoppers come from? Markets? We have 2 weekly markets which are already struggling, and are sadly neglected by our
Town Council. How could another market possibly do better?
A very healthy suggestion from a source who must remain anonymous, is that SDDC, in their search for property investment, should buy the former Lidls store in Boden Street. After all, the District Council is actively investing in commercial property. At a stroke, confifidence would be restored! SSDC believes in our town! The SSDC property investment team would have a property to let, a carpark to manage and a revenue stream from both. They would take control of part of the town centre, and hopefully co-operate with Chard Town Council to make this a meaningful long-term investment for Chard.
A point to consider, however is there sufficient political will and commitment in Chard Town Council and SSDC to make this happen?
LIDL'S MOVE TO TAPSTONE ROAD
The fragile economic balance of our town has suffered a seismic shock by the relocation of Lidls discount food retailers, from Boden Street in the heart of the town, to Tapstone Road, adjacent to the Tesco store and filling station. Definitely a drive-to location, unless you live
in the Victoria Avenue area.