Felixstowe needs to welcome new cafe

ALTHOUGH I don't live there, I like Felixstowe as a town to visit and shop in as an alternative to Ipswich - and the town's shopping centre has hit the news for two reasons this week.

ALTHOUGH I don't live there, I like Felixstowe as a town to visit and shop in as an alternative to Ipswich - and the town's shopping centre has hit the news for two reasons this week.

First the bureaucrats at Suffolk Coastal are getting themselves into a right strop over the news that Caffè Nero has opened in an empty unit that should be reserved for a shop.

Frankly in these current tough economic times they should be grateful any national chain wants to expand into a town like Felixstowe - and encouraging new business and the jobs it brings rather than trying to strangle it at birth.

And I must confess I was rather disappointed by the attitude of “Mrs Felixstowe” Doreen Savage when the controversy emerged.

Mrs Savage is a doughty campaigner for the town and knows what's what in Felixstowe.

She was absolutely right in saying; “The more things we have like this will bring benefits to the town.”

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But she spoiled it all by saying: “As a councillor I know that this application is against current policy and we have to look at what the policy says now.”

Mrs Savage knows that she has been sent to Suffolk Coastal by the voters to represent the views and the interests of Felixstowe at the council.

She is not sent from Suffolk Coastal to impose the council's policies on the town.

If a policy imposed by planners at Suffolk Coastal is so obviously against the interest of the town centre then Mrs Savage should be jumping up and down at Woodbridge telling them that they have to change the policy - not defending the planners who seem to want to squeeze yet another business out of the town centre.

It's difficult to understand what the point is of such a policy - cafés and shops should live harmoniously together. If one shop is converted to a café is that really going to be the end of the world?

Frankly in an area like Hamilton Road you are never going to get every shop converted into a café because that would upset the balance of the street and no one would go there.

But the balance of the street cannot be decided by a chinless wonder sitting in the planning office at Suffolk Coastal's offices in Woodbridge.

It must be decided by the market - if Caffè Nero thinks it can make a go of an empty shop in the middle of Hamilton Road then good luck to them!

The appalling victimisation of Puccinos a few years ago still leaves a nasty taste in the mouth,

Thank heavens the councillors told these same planners where to go when they tried to block Lidl's application to open in the town - if ever there was proof that Suffolk Coastal bureaucrats are intent on strangling the life out of Felixstowe that was it!

If the planners at Suffolk Coastal don't care about the vibrancy of Felixstowe town centre, then it is up to councillors like Mrs Savage to give them a kick up the backside, and not meekly take their message about “planning policy” back to the town she represents.

WHILE Suffolk Coastal needs to take a long hard look at its attitude to the district's largest town, the East of England Co-op has surely made the right decision in limiting parking at its Solar store to only two and a half hours at a time.

It's a great little shopping centre, but I don't think I've ever spent more than two and a half hours shopping at Felixstowe before moving on to the prom.

And if you do want to spend longer in the town, there's a great - and fairly cheap - car park opposite the library which is never any problem to get into.

The Co-op is a retailer, it is not a social service to provide free parking to the people of Felixstowe - especially to people who may work in shops which compete with them on the high street!

Those who are worried about the loss of free parking in Felixstowe should address their concerns to the district and see if fees can be reduced at its car parks.

Or better still they could look for something better to worry about - like the district's desire to force new businesses out of town.

YOU can be forgiven for feeling confused in these difficult times.

Last month inflation hit 5.2 per cent and there were real fears that Britain could be in for a bout of “Stagflation” - the phenomenon we saw in the 1970s when the economy went into recession while wage costs and prices ran away with each other.

Now everyone is getting worried that deflation could hit the economy. What are we to believe?

I know that stability is the goal, but it would be good if economists could agree what was the worst threat facing the economy!

And George Osborne must be feeling rather got at - for weeks people have been having a go at the Tories for not having anything to say about the current crisis.

Then when he does say something, everyone is having a go at him for “talking down the pound”.

The real irony of that was that after he came under all that flak at the weekend for suggesting that the pound could collapse, when the markets opened on Monday the value of the pound actually went up against most major currencies.

Which means either that he had misread the situation . . . or that the market traders simply didn't believe him and thought that his views were irrelevant in the current crisis.

And that is not good news for someone who aims to be controlling the British economy after the next general election!

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