Friday, 1 July 2011

Lords Urged To Support Cambridge City's Battle To Protect Independent Traders

Cambridge’s battle to safeguard city streets like Mill Road has reached the House of Lords.

Baroness Ros Scott of Needham Market said she was particularly struck by the city’s fight to protect the special character of Mill Road.

 And she warned that if the Localism Bill “did not allow councils to protect cherished local neighbourhoods and facilities, it will have failed.” 

Cambridge City Council Leader, Liberal Democrat Sian Reid has asked the Lords to support the city council’s call for amendments to clauses in the Bill regarding neighbourhood planning. 

 The council wants local authorities to have legal powers to promote the shops they want and resist those that they believe will harm their neighbourhoods. 

Cllr Reid said: “We need legislation to be able to protect the individuality and character of our streets. We want to be able to choose, with our communities, who should have a place in our shopping centres.”

During the Second Reading of the Bill in the House of Lords, Baroness Scott said: “I have been deluged with requests from councils and other organisations to request specific powers and duties to be put in the Bill.

“I was particularly struck by an approach made to me by councillors in Cambridge who, like councillors across the country, are seeking to protect the special character of a shopping street, Mill Road. 

“They are not confident that the general power will give them enough power to override the 2,500 pages of existing planning law, which they believe prevent them from taking the steps that they need to take in order to preserve the special character of the street.”

Cambridge City Cllr Catherine Smart, who represents Romsey said: “"Mill Road has a very diverse mix of retailers so the range of goods on sale is very wide.  It serves an area which is very diverse and the shops are mostly in small units which suit independent traders.

“Mill Road Winter Fair goes from strength to strength, attracting tens of thousands of people to Mill Road.  It is vital that this legislation gives us the power to keep its diversity through these changing and challenging times.”