I would like to respond to issues raised in Pete Kennedy’s recently published letter “Will our MP stand up”. He was right to raise the issues that he did. However, there are other, far reaching, consequences of the government’s plans which I also feel the need to highlight.

This proposed deregulation and consequent changing shops back to housing could be the final nail in the coffin for many of our high streets that would otherwise remain viable.

In recent years central Govt. has overseen sweeping changes to the delivery of pension payments, drivers licences, passport applications, delivery of prescriptions, bank closures, sorting office closures, card payments etc. etc. All in the name of deregulation, efficiency and cost saving. Each decision insignificant on its own, but taken cumulatively have decimated footfall in high streets which undermines local communities and has proved disastrous.

Simultaneously, meaningful local employment has been lost or displaced by the tax avoiding, free market shafting, antics of the likes of Amazon, Apple, e-Bay, Starbucks, Google et. al. amassing offshore cash mountains whilst leaving UK Government’s coffers bare and clearly unable to pay for our roads, health and education.

Local councils like Stroud need robust policy to ensure that the conversion of shops to houses and the inevitable contraction of the high street is managed sensibly, so that remaining footfall is focused around areas of any remaining primary shopping frontage. Communities and high streets are fragile and need nurturing.

Don't get me wrong. Change is inevitable. I don't want to pickle high streets in aspic. But, these proposed changes, in the name of 'levelling up', cannot be imposed on a political whim. It needs proper thought and proper local planning.

Decimation of our high streets is not something to be imposed on local communities from a remote and uncaring Government in Westminster in a desperate attempt to cling to power.

So, the question remains; will Siobhan Baillie MP stand up and defend the district’s settlements?

Gareth Kitchen

Independent trader, Wotton-under-Edge