WHO is responsible?

The forthcoming closure of Taunton streets and non-development of the Old Market site; reported by the County Gazette alongside comments from the public in the letters page, does nothing to quell the general frustration of the Taunton populous!

I would remind Taunton’s residents that once a ‘faceless’ national or local authority has made its mind up to do something - for what they believe to be for the greater good for their electorate – there is nothing in this ‘big-wide-world’ that will make them change their minds!

It doesn’t matter how much writing, protesting or media publicity is given the respective authority will push their decision through without listening to an alternative view point. Democracy and minority feelings are ignored completely and dictatorship takes charge.

For a local example of this I am using personal experience; for it was in 1974/5 the pedestrianising of the High Street, here in Taunton, was put into action.

READ MORE: Pedestrianising Taunton town centre 'could kill town', say traders

This week I was reminded that some 30+ traders in High Street formed ‘Taunton High Street Traders and Residents Group’ in 1974. After some lengthy discussions it was agree the Group would object and oppose the authority’s decision - with our main argument being - ‘to ban cars would limit and reduce the passing of the general public from our front doors thereby curtailing business’.

This, I would venture to say, has been proven right. High Street does not have the ‘buzz’ it used to. High Street has been re-designed twice since the original work, at great-cost, and to prove what?

The public will also never find out who was the ‘individual’ that came up with the idea for allowing Taunton market to move to Bridgwater, any more than who was responsible for letting the land there-on remain empty for 10 years.

With a slight deviation to my point – had Taunton Deane levelled the Market sight, they could have marked out 200 car parking spaces, charged £2 a day to park and earned for the benefit of the Deane, £144,000 a year and £1,444,000 over the 10 years; saved the cost of developing the Park and Ride, which in turn would have encouraged shoppers to use inexpensive parking and frequent the town centre facilities already in-situ.

Back to my point of town centre commerce: Cast your eyes along the three main town centre streets – a very high percentage of the trading done is conducted by national companies.

The closing of St James Street, to traffic will put a nail in the coffin of the dozen or so independent traders in this street as has happened, to a great extent, in High Street.

Will local authorities realise that the motor car is an essential part of society and individual needs; to penalise the use of them will encourage people to shop in out-of-town facilities, with free parking, and online, starving the town centre of the traditional shopping experience?