When, many years ago, my Father was a Councillor in this town and as Chairman of the Council was intimately involved in trying to prevent Sainsburys’ and other megalomaniac big businesses from wrecking the then pretty country market town with massively destructive ‘redevelopment’, he would have had absolutely no idea how nasty these big businesses like Sainsbury’s would become.
Since I knew the town as a boy, the Sun Life Insurance company and Sainsbury’s have together been instrumental in conniving to persuade the Town Council to raze down vast amounts of the then attractive centre of the town and browbeat the Local Council into agreeing to close off most roads into the centre of town and build an ugly motorway-like ‘inner ring road ‘bypass’ around the centre of sleepy little town, preventing any normal access to it.
Both these business organisations built monumental and modernistic ugly buildings over the centuries old town centre roads, killing of the historic town at a stroke. No doubt Sainsbury’ and Sun Life persuaded the Council it would be a good thing as they would be bringing lots of local jobs into the town.
But it has had the effect of preventing any of the local residents from getting at the town centre to do any shopping and empty shops now lie abandoned and boarded up forlornly as a result.
Shops and other traders still struggling to make ends meet as the Council extorts gigantic parking charges, hugely exceeding the costs of paying an average monthly mortgage for a house, never mind a bloody car parking space, can only watch grimly as turnover falls and they go out of business one by one.
Fewer and fewer residents bother to overcome the sheer trauma and hassle of being milked by unreasonable parking charges and endless threats of £90 parking tickets followed by bailiffs at the door adding hundred and hundreds of pounds to just one parking ticket, then threatening householders with the legalised theft of their house contents if they don’t pay up immediately.
Pedestrians are artfully provided with their own obstacle course to get into the town centre too. Nearly the entire local population has to brave an artificially contrived and utterly inappropriate and unnecessary urban motorway, carefully conceived by dimwitted ‘planners’ to make getting into the town centre on foot as unpleasant as possible for virtually everyone.
Hence, the town is dying on its feet; a slow strangulation that has already turned a really busy, attractive mediaeval market town into a nasty little empty urban desert in the middle of of what used to be some of the most stunningly beautiful landscape in the World.
It is now a noisy sprawl of ring roads and Orwellian building development designed to look as revolting as possible.
But Sun Life has fallen on hard times as more and more people realised the life insurer plundered their pockets and business has slumped. So the predatory business has now gone, having done its job of sucking the life out of the two like the parasite it is.
Sainsbury’s too is no longer in the centre of town, bringing the extra shoppers and vibrancy it had solemnly promised all those years ago.
It’s old low rise utilitarian shed like architecture is now a shoddy enclosed shopping centre, identical to any down at heel shopping mall anywhere. Completely without character and wildy unpleasant to visit, most shops offering standardised high street cloned tat.
Sainsbury’s supermarket itself, even more sophisticated in manipulating and dictating to local town councils all over the country, has purloined most of the one time garden of a fantastically elegant classic manor house in the one small remaining bit of the original town by the ancient Church that still remains.
The Manor House is no longer fantastically elegant as it was bought by the RSPCA for it’s headquarters, and then sold at a massive profit to developers who built bits on everywhere and turned it into a warren of poky little ‘town houses’ and awkward apartments in the once elegant original building.
The town is is now ugly and bereft of the soul it had. The centuries of hustle and bustle of a busy English country market town have gone. The old coaching inn, once the focal point, is boarded up and decaying listlessly. In the evenings and on the weekends, the town is dead and empty, except for a few loitering youths, often mindlessly drunk.
It is not the pleasant, friendly place it once was. Instead it is a place to hurry away from before a black cloud of depression descends about what modern life is like .