Chamber chair hits back at town centre claims

The chair of Ottery Chamber of Commerce said despite shop closures being blamed on Sainsbury’s arrival the town centre is still thriving.

Viv Abbott was reacting to comments by Millstone Bakery co-owner Kevin Wood, who told the Herald it was the negative impact of the supermarket which forced him to shut down on Christmas Eve.

The chamber’s chair, who also owns Abbott’s DIY, said research shows when a large retailer moves into a town there is an adjustment period of about two years, which she thinks Ottery is still in, but believes it can come out of it in a positive way.

She said: “We all knew when Sainsbury’s came there would be causalities and the town would change.”

But she said many businesses are doing well in Ottery, arguing the free two-hours parking at Hind Street has been a big help.

“People who used to shop in Ottery years ago, we’re now seeing them come into the shop for the first time in ages and they say it’s because they can park for free,” Mrs Abbott said.

She did pay tribute however to the owners of Millstone Bakery, saying it must have been a difficult decision to shut down, and thanking them for contributing to the local events over the years.

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“The chamber regrets the loss of the bakery and we wish them well in their endeavours,” she added.

“But as a chamber of commerce we are still strong, and the town is still strong.”

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