High street blues

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The Independent Online
From Mr Hywel James

Sir: I can understand Peter Popham's concern for the future of towns like Dorchester (Magazine: "Doomsday for rural England", 27 May), but what does he suggest as a practical alternative? I have lived and worked in or near towns in rural England all my life - in Devon, Dorset, Kent and Sussex - and the quality of the high-street shops has, ever since I can remember (say, 1955 onwards), been poor. Yes, the service has been characterful, a bit like Mr Jones in Dad's Army: a mixture of servility and tyranny; but the goods have been limited in range, overpriced and frequently covered in dust.

Unless some really radical alternatives are proposed - which take account of the public's need for high-quality, wide-ranging and economically priced goods - the rural town's high street will continue to comprise mostly building societies and Oxfam shops.

Yours faithfully,

HYWEL JAMES

Crediton, Devon

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