Howarth acts to stop Cambridge becoming a "clone town"

May 18, 2009 11:53 AM
David in Mill Road

David Howarth working to protect Mill Road's independent traders

Cambridge MP David Howarth is taking action to prevent independent traders being pushed out of the city by giant national chains.

He is supporting a move to create an Independent Business Zone to stop Cambridge becoming a "clone town."

The scheme has been triggered by Cambridge Liberal Democrats' desire to protect the independent traders of Mill Road, Magdalene Road and other areas of the city.

And Norwich City Council has already expressed an interest in the idea, believing that the city's independent businesses could benefit.

Mr Howarth has met with Cambridge City Council Director of Environment and Planning, Simon Payne, to discuss the idea and find out the national legislation needed to allow the scheme to go ahead.

He plans to write to Hazel Blears, Minister for Community and Local Government asking her to take up the idea. If his call to the minister fails, he will draft a Private Member's Bill to put before the House of Commons.

He said: "The present economic climate has meant there has never been a better time to take action to protect local independent traders.

"The Independent Business Zone would allow planners nationally to protect their towns from becoming carbon copies of others across the country. It would give independent traders a chance to flourish with fair competition and give shoppers more choice."

Cambridge City Executive Councillor Catherine Smart will take the idea to full council on Thursday.

She said: "I am worried that Cambridge could become a Clone Town, where the large national chains dominate and small independent traders, which offer specialist ranges, could disappear.

"It is vital that we give these smaller traders the opportunity to compete in a fair market place and I believe an Independent Business Zone would do just that."

Norwich Lib Dem Councillor Rosalind Wright said: "We are very interested in this idea as there are groups of independent businesses in the city which could benefit."

What would you like to do next?