How about an ice rink?

PUBLISHED: 14:55 05 March 2008 | UPDATED: 08:52 10 June 2010

Exmouth needs a supermarket of a size and scale to offer real competition to Tesco. I understand that Tesco prices in bands.

Exmouth needs a supermarket of a size and scale to offer real competition to Tesco.

I understand that Tesco prices in bands. Where there is no competition, I believe prices are hiked up - so Exmothians have to pay more for their supermarket shopping than those elsewhere.

Surveys show ASDA's goods to be cheaper than Tesco's on average. This position may change, and is not a reason to welcome or discourage ASDA as a brand. It is the provision of choice and competition that is key.

Free competition reduces prices. This can only benefit the town. Exmouth's residents would then have more disposable income for the less essential items likely to be offered by speciality retailers. And why should those who want good value have to go elsewhere, as is the case now?

As a one-time marketing director of a couple of major retail chains and several smaller ones, I can put to bed some misunderstandings about town centre traders.

If a retailer is to prosper, he must offer an appealing product to his prospective customers and price competitively. Simple. There are traders in the town running profitable businesses on that basis. Others have failed, as will always be the case.

A new supermarket will not adversely affect businesses like Exeter Road's opticians, car parts shop, picture shops, photography studio and so on, because they have found a niche and operate well.

The problem lies with the location. The reality is that the estuary site can only be accessed through the town, or down the Exeter Road/Marine Way.

There are plans to remove traffic from the town centre, not add to it. Access via Exeter Road/Marine Way is compromised by the current traffic loading from the Gypsy Lane junction to the new traffic lights at the Exeter Road/Marine Way junction. The new lights already add several minutes to a peak-hour journey. Add supermarket traffic volumes, and there will be gridlock, which would benefit no-one.

When East Devon District Council proposed "Unlocking Exmouth", a planner at an exhibition told me that traffic flow analysis was a responsibility of Devon County Council. No development could go ahead without such a study being undertaken, with acceptable results. No survey had been done, as EDDC could not afford to pay DCC.

I asked why the traffic flow analysis was not done before money was spent on "Unlocking Exmouth". Apparently, this was because it came out of another budget. Thus works local government logic.

When a study is done, the probability is that traffic flow issues will make the supermarket plan untenable, though one cannot be sure of this.

So, what can be done with the site? Leaving well alone has some appeal. Alternatively, a hotel could be combined with public leisure facilities.

This would add to the value of a visitor centre, and the Jurassic Coast concept. A further thought. There is no permanent ice rink between Plymouth and Bristol, and the Plymouth facility is tiny. There is a growth of interest in ice-bound sports, evidenced by the success of Dancing on Ice and the fast expansion of temporary Christmas rinks.

We could have a new visitor attraction adjacent to the estuary, more aesthetically appealing than a supermarket, and with a lesser traffic imprint. Worth a thought?

Ed Hughes,

15 Redwood Close, Exmouth.

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