Witnessed this sorry state of affairs

HAVING read your feature about the sad and unnecessary demise of Orchard Meadows, I felt compelled to add a few comments of my own.

HAVING read your feature about the sad and unnecessary demise of Orchard Meadows, I felt compelled to add a few comments of my own.

As a resident and shop owner in the area for the last nine years, I too have witnessed this sorry state of affairs.

When I first moved here there was a feeling of optimism and community spirit.

We had regular meetings to discuss local issues and many proposals were implemented to promote the area and recommend improvements for submission to the local council and the Town Centre Partnership.


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We were given assurances that the area would be given priority in a funded regeneration process, plans were drawn up that showed major road and pavement improvements, controlled traffic and parking, street furniture and 'gateway signs', all designed to make the area 'pedestrian friendly'.

Further proposals included direction signs, floral decoration, flags, Christmas lights and cash for shop front improvements. All in all a great vision to secure the future of the 'Heart of Weston' and to preserve the culture and the uniqueness of the area.

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So, how far have we come? We have seen some improvements to the road and pavement in part of Meadow Street and unnecessary new 'pedestrian controlled' traffic lights at the crossroads, and we have one 'gateway sign' which is really just a post. Recently we have seen the road markings re-painted and new restriction signs put up, although there is still no enforcement of the parking regulations, which are regularly abused on a daily basis.

What we have also seen is the demise of the Orchard Meadows Traders Association and its website, an influx of drug addicts and alcoholics, an increase in through traffic using Orchard Street as a 'rat run', a hike in business rates and a lack of customers due to the general unattractiveness of the area. It's no wonder that the enthusiasm has gone, businesses can't make it work and the shops are closing. The loss of the museum will be a further disaster for the area.

What happened to the council's promises for regeneration? What happened to the traders association and the Local Action Team? What happened to the Christmas lights that were paid for by the traders and only used for one Christmas? What happened to the support from the Town Centre Partnership and what happened to the Weston Discount Card scheme? We still don't even have the litter bins that we were promised. Where did the money go?

And now there is some crackpot scheme to introduce 'shopping wardens' to direct people to the closed shops, and they want another �250,000 of our money per year to finance it! I think there will be another shop closing soon!

JOHN FIDDES

Orchard Street

Weston

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