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West Cornwall towns are heralded as Home Towns not Clone Towns by Green Party after shop survey

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: March 07, 2013

  • Kerry Knight pictured when she had just moved into the thoroughly independent Beaten Green in St Ives in 2011. The shop is now a stylish vintage boutique.

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PENZANCE, Hayle and St Ives have been branded 'home towns, not clone towns' by a Green Party survey into how many of our high-street shops are independent.

In 2005 the New Economics Foundation (NEF) branded 41 per cent of Britain's towns 'clone towns' because they were dominated by the same old high-street chains.

The predominance of names such as Woolworths and HMV, Boots and Superdrug meant you could walk down the high street of pretty much any town and see the same shops.

The NEF defined a clone town as "a place that has had the individuality of its high- street shops replaced by a monochrome strip of global and national chains that means its retail heart could easily be mistaken for dozens of other bland town centres across the country".

Now a survey by the West Cornwall Green Party has branded most of the area's towns 'home towns' because, unlike the rest of the country, they are dominated by independents.

The surveys were conducted by Green Party members walking the high streets and main shopping areas of Penzance, Hayle, St Ives, Redruth, Camborne and Helston.

They logged and categorised the shops by type, noting if the shop was an independent or part of a national chain.

They then used a scoring system devised by the NEF to compare the area with the national situation.

Highest-scoring as a 'home town' was Hayle. Of the 63 shops surveyed there, there were a staggering 35 different types and 48 were independent, giving it a 'home town' score of 95.

Joint second were Penzance and St Ives with scores of 71 points.

Sixty-nine shops were surveyed in St Ives and while there were only 11 different types of shop, 56 were independent.

In Penzance the 100 shops surveyed were broken down into 14 types, but 76 of them were independents.

St Ives Green Party town councillor Tim Andrewes said the results showed that west Cornwall had a positive ratio of independent retailers to chain stores compared to 'clone towns' found elsewhere in the UK.

"We're delighted to see that west Cornwall independent shops are a dominant feature of our local high streets," he said.

"It's great for local people and tourism, and it's more important than ever that we support these local businesses."

The only town in west Cornwall not labelled a 'home town' in the survey was Redruth.

Although there were an impressive 22 different types of store among the 50 shops surveyed, only 25 – exactly half – were independent.

The West Cornwall Green Party said that under the NEF points system this didn't make Redruth a 'clone town' but a 'border town'.

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  • josdave  |  March 07 2013, 11:11AM

    These towns now have a target painted on them so watch out for more and more supermarkets applying for planning permission so they can close down a few more independent traders.