viewpoint

16 March, 2007
Page 10 
I am sorry to hear about the troubles afflicting Skeltons of Hull (pg 4). The family company has 43 shops and 670 employees. It is continuing to trade in administration and blames price increases and supermarket competition.Whatever the reasons, this has been a long time coming - six years in total. We can only wish Skeltons and its staff a successful outcome.
We are about to find out if the Isle of Man's Office of Fair Trading has any teeth (pg 6). It seems that virtually all the Isle's mills and bakers are under threat from cut-price imported bread. The local agriculture minister, plant baker and miller are all uniting against the "flood of very cheap imports". But that will not be enough. They must gather evidence, more evidence and lobby until there are no hours left in the day. They need to get national press coverage to support their cause and cash in on the 'local sourcing' angle. They need to update local TV and news stations daily. They need to fight harder - NOW!I was really struck by a comment on the news last night by a young lady who lives in the Falkland Islands. She said: "We have no crime at all. We can leave the keys in our cars and our houses unlocked. We are one community."You may remember such times, but while you cannot turn the clock back, you can at least start to look at the multitude of things that have gone wrong and lack of 'community' is definitely one of them. Often, the only thing people belong to these days is 'gangs'. But we all want to belong - to families to companies, to communities. I suspect one reason the Sustainable Communities Bill meeting attracted a massive crowd of 1,000 is due to the way national government has taken over a large part of decision-making from councils (pg 16). In the rest of Europe, as I have stated before, local communities are responsible both for and to their local traders. As such, they would not dare annihilate them, stick yellow lines outside their businesses and impose excessive rates. And I am angered by the Hyder Report (pg 5) that says only 32% support local shops. I now have a tanning shop, print shop and solicitor in place of my baker, butcher and greengrocer. And NO, I don't support them.



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