‘Sympathy is with truly local shops’

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THE inexorable rise of the supermarket has created a dilemma for shoppers and for the local authorities which help shape our streets and communities.

Should the likes of Asda and Tesco be allowed to flex their financial muscle to provide the sort of prices and convenience that millions of people clearly want?

Or should local stores be protected, not just to support the entrepreneurs who own them and the staff who work in them, but also to save our commercial heritage?

It is a tough call and it has to be said that councils across the UK often seem to have got it wrong, with several supermarkets of the same brand springing up to take over shopping in some towns.

That hasn’t been the case in Edinburgh – yet. On the whole the big supermarkets have been kept to a reasonable level. Indeed, last March a new Sainsbury’s was only given the go-ahead in Longstone after locals complained when the city’s planning officials rejected the plan.

As we report today, the situation appears very different in Bruntsfield, where the same supermarket chain is opening one of its smaller “Local” shops in the former Peckham’s.

Traders are forming a new association, which is effectively calling on shoppers in the area to boycott Sainsbury’s.

Most of all they fear a price war between the giant retailer and its rival Tesco which could force independent shops out of business.

Instinctively, our sympathy is with the truly “local” businesses, and we wish them well as they work together to try to encourage people to keep shopping in their stores.

But ultimately the market will decide, and that is only right. Hopefully the independent traders can do enough to prove that there is a place on our streets for them as well as the popular retail goliaths.

Rumbling on

the decision not to impose a ban on lorries in parts of the West End because it would have to be “self-enforcing” seems an odd one.

The rights and wrongs of this particular case aside, aren’t most traffic regulations equally “self-enforcing” given that drivers either comply or ignore them?

Other than the few places where there are speed cameras (or, soon to be, greenway cameras) or there happens to be a police car nearby, don’t we usually rely on the fact that most drivers usually do the right thing?

Why that can’t happen with lorries in the West End is as much a mystery as when the tram works will end.