LETTER: Peterborough needs to encourage more independent shops

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I agree with your reporter Stephen Briggs (January 11) with respect to attempting to attract more footfall to Cowgate.

Last Friday night you could not move for taxis and cars who had driven up cross street and stopped on the corner with King Street.

Yes pedestrianise the street as soon as. However it is not just Cowgate which needs to be looked at.

I note with dismay that North Shoes in Westgate which has been in the city for as long as I can remember and is an award winning business is relocating to Oundle in March.

The reason for the move I gather is a hike in business rates.

Its not rocket science to work out that higher rates are likely only to be affordable by the big chains and as we can already see all Peterborough has to offer shopping wise are the chains making Peterborough no different from any other town.

I say town rather than city because if you go to any of the cities around they have a wealth of independent shops which is precisely why people travel to Leicester or Nottingham for example.

Peterborough continues to be more like a town in its retail offering. Having said that take a trip to Stamford, Oundle or Oakham (much smaller towns of course) and you will find a plethora of independent shops making a visit much more attractive.

How can small towns do it and Peterborough which purports to be a fast growing city cannot?

Is it lack of the will to accept that sometimes it makes more sense to attract a number of small independents rather than one bigger chain by offering a reduced business rate?

So come on Peterborough City Council use some lateral thinking and actually have a city centre plan which gives consideration for Independent shops to have a reduced rate so they will be attracted to the city and vastly improve the retail offer.

Judy Jones, Cecil Road, Peterborough