From tonight’s Echo:
TOWN councillors have defended Rayleigh against criticism that the situation in the High Street is dire.
Town council chairman Cheryl Roe said despite the recession and large out-of-town supermarkets, Rayleigh was coping relatively well.
Earlier this month, Keith Hudson, Rochford district councillor, said Rayleigh was suffering because of the number of shops closing and a lack of leisure facilities.
He stressed he was talking about the shopping and leisure situation in Rayleigh as ?dying? and in need of rejuvenation, not the town itself.
The district council is considering a masterplan to revive the town centre, along with similar masterplans for Hockley and Rochford. But Mrs Roe said: ?The closure of long-established businesses is a national problem.
?It has been ongoing since the increase in internet shopping and the development of large supermarkets and out-of-town shopping centres. It is very difficult for any small business to survive under these circumstances.
?However, we are pleased new businesses are opening all the time in the town centre.?
Mrs Roe welcomed the news Rochford District Council was proposing a Rayleigh masterplan and she said the town council would like to see a Marks & Spencer or a Tesco Express in the High Street.
She added: ?Rayleigh has a lot to offer and is hardly dire.
There’s likely to be some discussion of Rayleigh Town Centre at the District Council Meeting on Thursday – we’ll write some more after that.
I do find Cllr Hudson’s comments astonishing. Perhaps he has forgotten that the Tories wanted to abandon the rejuvenation of the High Street when the job was half done – that really would have been dire. But fortunately, the Lib Dems carried on and got the job done.
And is this the same Cllr Hudson who said he would support a Southend relief road through our green belt?