Keeping Ottery special

SIR - After reading your great articles about the arrival and opening of Sainsbury’s in Ottery St Mary and how Sainsbury’s promised it would revive the town with free parking for shoppers, here we are, 3 months on, and we can see the result.

Local shop keepers who have supported local clubs and groups for many years and who had become part of the community of Ottery are struggling. Many shop keepers are trying to decide if it is worth trying to continue; the streets are empty and the atmosphere of the town is slipping away.

I hear Sainsbury’s is doing well and that’s good if that’s what Ottery wants, but what does the future of Ottery hold? I am not sure. A town where people sleep and commute to Exeter to work and shop, only returning to the town to sleep and pop into Sainsbury’s, serve themselves and return to their homes behind closed doors.

I fear Ottery is becoming a commuter town and, with that, the heart of Ottery will die. I guess this will fall on deaf ears as I don’t have the backing of a PR company or the funds to buy advertising space and, with that, the positive articles written by the paper involved.

Sainsbury’s promised to work with the local shops; all they have done is taken the trade. I know we all need supermarkets and it’s so easy to shop there.

So I ask you, the community of Ottery, what made your town special to you and how do you see the future of your town: the individual town it had grown to be, or a town like any other, just another clone town. Losing the local shops is more than just the loss to the business owners, it’s also all their local, loyal staff and you, the residents of Ottery.

Kevin Wood

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