LETTER: Decision to stop Morrisons selling bedding plants outside defies logic

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The Government repeatedly promises businesses it will reduce the weight of red tape and bureaucracy, but it still continues to pile it on.

Last week, new regulations forced shops to put cigarettes and tobacco out of sight. In order to further reduce consumption, the next move the Government is contemplating is for cigarettes to be sold in plain packets! Needless to say, those who make counterfeit cigarettes, which incidentally are said to account for 25% of all those currently smoked in the UK, will be rubbing their hands in glee. Ideally, the Government would like us to stop smoking altogether; what it does not tell us is how it will replace the eleven billion pounds the Exchequer receives from taxes on tobacco products. On second thoughts, having put a 20% tax on hot pasties, it could, I suppose, extend it to cold ones!

Nearer home, the heavy hand of officialdom has fallen on Morrisons supermarket. Ever since the store opened in 1999, along with cut flowers and other garden requisites, it has always sold bedding plants. This year, to give customers a greater variety it moved them a mere few yards and displayed them outside by the entrance. This proved very popular with Pendle’s gardeners. Not only were they spoiled for choice, but with being able to buy the plants outside the store, carrying them to their cars was much easier. However, for reasons which defy all logic, moving the plants from inside to outside did not please our council one bit. You either shut down the “garden centre” voluntarily, they threatened, or we will make you. It would appear it fell foul of the council’s plans to revitalise Nelson town centre.

I cannot help but wonder if anyone from the council has ever noticed how the town centre benefits from people who have shopped at Morrisons and then, via Every Street and Market Square walk to and from town. Ah, but what about the detrimental effect the “garden centre” will have other businesses some will say? Through these columns, Clarks ironmongers complained about competition re garden tools. However they need not worry. Gardeners are a very discerning bunch and the range of tools at Morrisons paled into insignificance compared to the ones they offered. And as to the plants themselves, well one would have to drive several “polluting” and currently very expensive miles in either direction to find another garden centre, so the only business that might, and it is a big might, that could be adversely affected by Morrisons would be the stall, which, subject to the vagaries of the weather, stands the Friday market. What I would suggest to Morrisons is they re-apply, only this time think outside the box. Instead of asking for permission to open a garden centre, call it a Floribunda Takeaway. History shows that only rarely, is an application to open a takeaway in Pendle refused.

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