23 Years ago I moved from France into the Stroud area.

During these 23 Years I had to watch a once thriving pretty market town; with an uplifting spirit and a great variety of versatile venues; small shops; pubs; and cafes; turn into a barren, inhospitable dive and cultural desert; with no character or positive feel about it.

The decline started with McDonald's; followed shortly by Costas; Greggs; Subways and Starbucks. And to finish the town completely off; some people at the council now actually contemplate giving planning permission for another huge Costas and a KFC next to McDonald's.

This is insane!! Is it not obvious in which terrible state of health this nation already is? The highest obesity rate in Europe and nobody makes the junk food connection. No, they give them even more rubbish to eat.

No wonder the NHS is on its knees. Look at the people. How unwell and depressed they look. The way they dress. You could cast a Zombie movie with free extras from Stroud. They don't even need any makeup.

Then the new Merrywalk shopping centre which is under constant construction since I moved here. A complete and utter disaster with not the slightest atmosphere or charm. It looks and feels like a massive underground bomb shelter. Dark, cold and depressing.

Who is responsible for this architectural crime? This so-called shopping mall is already decaying before it is even finished. Look at it. This has to be the ugliest shopping mall I have ever seen in my entire life. And I have seen many. The same goes for the highstreet. Completely dead. Littered with charity and junk food shops; mobile phone shops and nail parlors; dragging the few dignified old established businesses down with them into the gutter.

I saw many shops over the years trying to put something positive into the town centre; but they were forced to close down because of the horrific business rates and rent they could no longer afford. Not even the butcher who was a real blessing for the town centre could survive. And no. The posh Saturday market does not compensate for the fact that the rest of the week Stroud is a grim and utter ....hole. On a Sunday in particular you can really feel how depressing Stroud has become over the Years.

How dead and deserted the place is. Because there is nothing in the town centre you can go to. Nothing. No museums, no galleries, no open venues. Most cafes and shops are shut.

Stroud; like so many towns, is the direct victim of the council's austerity measures. They really are killing everything off what once made Britain great. And they are doing a good Job. I love this country but the problem with you Brits is that you don't have the guts to complain and to speak out. Over on the continent we do. Complain; is not a dirty word like it is here.

That's why things work over there. Nothing works here. That's for sure. Just look at the roadworks around Stroud. What a mess. What an utter disgrace. Total chaos.

Reinhold Maria Binder;