Tunnel Visionaries

Some people say that Private Eye is Britain’s most powerful magazine.

The editorial team at The Economist would probably dispute that claim, but there’s no disputing that the Eye is very influential. It is required reading for every journalist and every politician, and getting a mention can be a very mixed blessing.

So although the supporters of Salisbury Vision may think they can safely ignore a petition (signed by a mere 8,000 people) against plans to remodel the Market Place by destroying 30 perfectly healthy mature trees and moving an inconveniently-sited war memorial, they’d be well advised to pay heed to what’s been said about them in the latest Eye.

There are some very unfavourable remarks about SV in the magazine’s Nooks and Corners column, and the author (“Piloti”) hasn’t pulled any punches.

It doesn’t do anyone’s career much good to be compared with rioters in terms of long-term destruction, and now that these remarks have appeared in print they will endure for as long as there’s an internet.

Until now it’s only been us who’ve been asking who on earth these unelected people are, and who precisely has given them the right to wreck our Market Place, destroy the city library and provide 350,000 square feet of space for yet another unneeded supermarket. But thanks to the Eye, many more people will now be asking the same questions – and some of them will be very powerful people indeed.

So maybe there’s still an outside chance that these tunnel Visionaries will stop telling us that they know better, and try listening instead. Perhaps it’s just possible that they’re wrong, and the rest of us right.

“I’d never open a shop in Salisbury…”

… a business friend of mine commented the other day. “The rents and rates here are scandalously high, and you’d be lucky to do more than cover your costs. You certainly wouldn’t make much profit. Yet there is any number of other towns around here where you’d do very well.”

It got me thinking. I’ve heard this claim before about local commercial rents being far too high, and certainly I know of at least two entrepreneurs who gave up an unequal struggle and went out of business.

But why should this be? Something must have driven the going-rate upward, but what? Perhaps you know, dear reader. In which case please tell the rest of us.

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