Archive for the ‘economics’ Category

Cyprus hotels not open until end of season?

April 8, 2020

Comments by Head of the Paphos branch of the Cyprus Hotels Association (Pasyxe) Thanos Michaelides that hotels in Cyprus will open any time soon is a classic example of how out of touch and clueless hoteliers in Cyprus, as always incredibly short sighted, no ability to think long term.

Tourist sector has been on the decline for years, attracts the dregs of the tourist industry, drives away the quality tourists, all-inclusive brings in the dregs of the tourist industry, drives away quality tourists, little money flows into the local economy.

Tourists sector is more than a few greedy shortsighted hoteliers, it is bars, restaurants, coffee shops, water sports, car hire, boat trips, all of which have seen a dramatic loss of income in recent years thanks to all-inclusive hotels.

The opportunity should be taken, which was not taken when Thomas Cook collapsed, to restructure the tourist sector. Focus on quality, fewer tourists, quality tourists, end all-inclusive hotels which bring in the dregs of the tourist industry with little money flowing into the local economy, tour companies no more than 20% of bookings, with payment made in full at end of every month.

Reliant upon two countries, over reliance.

UK will be in lockdown until at least end of May. FCO advice on no foreign travel indefinite. No one has any money. Consumer confidence at record low. Airlines grounded, government not inclined to bailout, strong public opposition to bailout. Stelios Haji-Ioannou has warned easyJet will run out of money by August.

Russia in lockdown, EU borders closed.

Before anything happens, before any influx of tourists, Cyprus would have to come out of lockdown and be coronavirus free for at least a month.

Europe and US are current epicentres of covid-19. Tuesday, UK recorded highest daily mortality, 786 covid-19 deaths, total in excess of 6000. And that is only deaths recorded in hospitals, the actual number estimated NOS to be 70% higher.

The earliest Cyprus open to visitors would be end of season.

If Cyprus open to visitors, would have to be slowly, slowly, screening at airports, means to quarantine, hotels only 50% capacity maximum, strict enforcement of social distancing within hotels, dining, sunbeds spaced well apart, hotels where packed in like sardines on sunbeds not permitted to open, screening of everyone every time they enter a hotel, saunas, gyms, massage not open, moot point if pools open, if open, strict enforcement on numbers in the pool, showering on entering and leaving the pool, sunbeds cleaned every evening.

How do we get from lockdown, not allowed out, social distancing, keep at least 2 metres apart, no association with other than ones own household, avoid public transport, to travel through a busy airport, packed in like sardines for four hours in a confined place breathe in the shared air, packed like sardines in the hotel grounds?

At least two airlines, BA and an American airline the cabin crew have tested positive for covid-19.

The turn around of easyJet on landing with the crew tasked with a quick tidy of the plane is not sufficient to decontaminate the plane. Cyprus needs to have in place an enforced decontamination regime, with heavy penalty if fail to comply. All aircraft decontaminated on landing before can take on board passengers.

Insurance is essential, and a legal requirement if travelling within EU.

Many insurance companies have pulled travel insurance, others have excluded covid-19 cover and hiked the price.

Would Cyprus authorities be offering free insurance cover? And if they did, locals would have a legitimate argument, why not us, why are we not covered?

Airlines are grounded. Lufthansa is to permanently decommission more than 40 of its aircraft and axe its Germanwings low-cost arm, warning it will take years for the airline industry to return to its pre-coronavirus peak in passenger numbers.

FCO travel advice, no overseas travel indefinite.

UK lockdown likely to last into May.

Hoteliers need to get their act together and live in the real world, look long term, not always short term fast buck.

A start would be to offer regulars special deals for end of this year year and for next year.

It will not be return to business as usual, but nor should it be.

We have a larger crisis looming, Climate Emergency.

 

Cyprus finance minister economy will shrink by five percent

April 3, 2020

… there will be a recession and GDP could contract by about 5 per cent. — Cyprus Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides

Cyprus Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides has opened himself up to ridicule by claiming Cyprus economy will shrink by about five per cent.

If we look at European countries in lockdown, with most sectors shut down, economies will shrink by far more than five percent.

Only five percent with total collapse of Cyprus tourist industry?

Or is this a tacit admission that the only beneficiaries of the tourist sector were a handful of hoteliers and the foreign tour companies?

Before coronavirus crisis Cyprus tourist industry was close to collapse, all-inclusive hotels bringing in the dregs of the tourist industry, quality tourists driven away, with little money flowing into the local economy.

One only had to walk the streets and observe the empty bars and restaurants and coffee shops.

EasyJet has grounded its fleet. British Airways suspended its operation at Gatwick.

Tui was in debt to the tune of 2 billion euros before the coronavirus pandemic.

UK has said it will not bailout out the airline industry. A petition before UK Parliament is calling upon the government to not bailout the industry, instead transition to a Green New Deal.

Airlines and tour company tui are dragging their feet to pay compensation for cancelled flights and holidays. Trying to palm clients off with worthless vouchers.

Why have hotels on the front page of their websites no coronavirus information? Why are they taking bookings when not likely to be open, when Cyprus in lockdown, airports closed?

The rare exception Sunrise hotels:

Important Announcement for COVID-19
In accordance with the new measures taken by the Cyprus Government, all Sunrise Hotels will be closed until 30/04/2020.
For direct bookings we are offering the flexibility to amend the travel dates without any cancellation fee. For further information or assistance please contact us at: reservations@sunrise.com.cy.
For other bookings made through Tour Operators or Travel Agents, please contact them for alternative solutions.

When Thomas Cook collapsed, the opportunity was not taken to restructure the tourist industry. Far from grasping the opportunity the collapse of Thomas Cook offered, the worst of all possible worlds, tui was allowed to grab a greater share of the market, bad for hoteliers, bad for tourists.

The opportunity must not be lost this time around.

The focus must be on fewer tourists, quality tourists.

Improve quality everywhere, bars, restaurants, coffee shops, hotels.

Shut down the noisy bars that attract the dregs of the tourist industry.

Replace with traditional tavernas and coffee shops. It would be difficult to find good examples without visiting Plaka in Athens. Paul’s Coffee Roasters and Lazaris (though not for coffee) near St Lazarus Church in the back streets of Larnaca set high standards, take a pride in what they do, as does Nick’s Coffee Bike outside Larnaca Marina, but these are the rare exceptions, not the norm, oasis amidst the dross. Once the norm in Cyprus, until a race to the bottom to attract custom from all-inclusive hotels, a race no one can win.

Grecian Park and Crystal Springs set high standards, few hotels come anywhere near.

Outlaw all-inclusive hotels that are killing the local economy.

Restrict tour operator bookings to less than 20% of bookings, encourage direct bookings. Tour operators forced to settle their accounts at the end of every month.

Reliance on euro bonds is a non-starter as has already been vetoed by Germany and Holland. I would refer to critical comment by Yanis Varoufakis.

Recommendations for the short term.

Furlough staff as in UK with government covering 80% of wage, with a cap of 2,500 euros per month.

A similar scheme for the self employed, 80% of average earning over last three years.

Grants and soft loans to small businesses, but with strings attached, quality has to improve.

For hotels, only to groups of five hotels or less. No bailout of large chains.

No bailout for corporate chains.

In China, one man with covid-19 travelling on a bus, infected nine fellow passengers.

Now imagine on a plane with one person with covid-19, passing through a busy airport, then getting on public transport.

Ever travelled on the packed-in-like-sardines 101/102 local bus that runs Paralimni – Protaras – Ayia Napa? Now imagine one person on that bus with covid-19.

Until such time that Cyprus has temperature screening at airports, facilities to detain, test, quarantine, temperature screening of everyone every time they enter a hotel, cannot even contemplate opening Cyprus to tourists. And even then only for hotels, not apartments.

In absence of such measures why are hotels taking bookings for as early as Easter? And these bookings cannot be from within the country as Cyprus is in lockdown.

EU has closed its borders for the foreseeable future.

No Russians, no one from outside of EU.

Countries have also closed their borders.

Israel closed its borders weeks ago, Russia has closed its borders with strict self-isolating and heavy fines if venture out.

As always, Cyprus grasping at straws rather than doing what it takes, hard graft and addressing systemic problems within the tourist industry.

EU will come to the rescue, Brits will come to the rescue, Russians will come to the rescue.

Latest was, Chinese dirty money will come to the rescue.

With Chinese tourists it overlooks one very simple fact, Chinese tourists are cultural tourists, hence Athens, Oxford, Cambridge. Low life bars in Cyprus,  somehow I think not.

FCO advice, do not travel overseas. Lockdown in UK for six months.

Speaking on Channel 4 News, former WHO Director-General Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland has said that she expects coronavirus crisis to last at least 18 months, until such time as a vaccine is available.

Is Cyprus foolish enough to open its borders and risk many covid-19 deaths?

One advantage of being an island, easy to control entry to the country.

Europe the epicentre of coronavirus.

Spain and Italy the death toll exceeds that of China. UK, slow to act, daily mortality rate is fast approaching that of Spain, Russia not far behind.

Cyprus would have to be very slow to open its borders to visitors from Europe. Temperature screening at airports, with facilities to isolate, trace and quarantine. Only hotels open. Temperature screen of everyone each and every time they enter the hotel. Hotels restricted to maximum of half capacity, gyms, saunas, massage not open, social distancing, dining well spaced apart, same true of sunbeds. Moot point if pools open. If open, strict limit on numbers in the pool, strict enforcement of shower before and after use of the pool. Sunbeds thoroughly cleaned every evening. Hotels where clients packed in like sardines on sunbeds, not permitted to open.

Any hotel where cases of coronavirus, quarantined for a month.

Larnaca, minimum of 50% of the sunbeds removed from the beach.

Oh and not forgetting, oil and gas will come to the rescue, conveniently ignoring oil at $10 a barrel and Climate Emergency will destroy Cyprus tourist industry, too hot, rising sea levels and storms will wash away beaches and flood Larnaca.

Covid-19 is not the only crisis, the other is Climate Emergency.

We cannot return to businesses as usual.

No bailout for airline industry

April 1, 2020

Airlines and tour companies trashed the planet, spread coronavirus around the world, now they are asking for a bailout.

January, the world should have suspended flights from China. Then as coronavirus spread, suspended flights from other coronavirus hotpots.

In UK, airports are still open, inbound flights from China, Iran, Italy and New York. There is no temperature screening at the airports. The only permitted flights, rescue and essential supplies. The irony, China has banned foreigners from entering the country.

No bailout for airlines or tour companies.

No bailout for greedy grasping tax dodging billionaire con man Richard Branson.

Branson sued NHS for millions. How many ventilators would that have bought?

Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Heathrow are backing Virgin in demanding a bailout for Virgin. Well they would wouldn’t they? One wants to sell aircraft, the other engines and Heathrow trying to justify its existence.

EasyJet paid out to shareholders and Stelios Haji-Ioannou only a couple of weeks ago, early this week their entire fleet grounded. A couple days ago an e-mail promoting holidays, the following day an offer of a flight to anywhere for £29-99 (though try finding). EasyJet founder is threatening to oust the board, but have we not heard this before, and did not the board kick out Stelios Haji-Ioannou?

Regional airline Loganair are demanding a bailout. There can be no role for regional airlines, use the train.

What we have seen, businesses have been very quick to adapt, working from home, video-conferencing.

Necessity the handmaiden of invention.

Ventilators designed within days, ventilators a fraction of the cost that NHS is currently using.

Open source design.

Long distance supply chains, are brittle, easily broken.

EasyJet and Virgin have made their laid off staff available to staff the new Nightingale Hospital in London the largest in Europe, up and running in less than ten days. Contrast with J D Wetherpoon, laid off staff told get another job, go work in a supermarket.

EasyJet has written to 9,000 UK-based staff, of whom 4,000 are trained in CPR, to invite them to volunteer for further training before helping out at the critical care field hospitals in London, Birmingham and Manchester.

Virgin Atlantic will contact 4,000 of its employees from Monday and prioritise those who already have relevant skills that can be put to good use at the sites. The volunteers will perform support roles, such as changing beds under the guidance of trained nurses, and will continue to be paid by the airlines.

Please sign the petition to UK Parliament calling for no bail out of airline industry.

Letter from Boris gesture politics at its worst. An imbecile trying to give the impression doing something. An appalling waste of public money. How many ventilators would £5.8 million have bought?

What we are learning, all what we thought was necessary in life, the trivia, the pointless consumption, when deaths stares us in the face, we realise how shallow our lives.

Coronavirus is not the only crisis we are facing, climate emergency is the other crisis. We were told, nothing could change, or if it did, not within the required timescale, zero carbon by 2035. We have seen change happen overnight, polluting industries shut down, cruise ships not allowed to dock, fish return to the canals of Venice, our cities free of traffic.

In a few months time, we cannot return to business as usual.

Bailouts should be of people and small local family indie businesses. We should not bailout polluting industries. Where Big Business is bailed out, it should only be those of strategic importance, and only by means of acquiring a controlling stake in the businesses.

No bailout of fossil fuels, no bailout of airlines.

Australia first country to commit Climate Suicide

January 5, 2020

Australia will go down in history as the first country to commit Climate Suicide, assuming there is anyone left to write the history books.

As Paul Mason succinctly notes, this is the fossil fuel elite’s Chernobyl.

Australia together with pariah states like Saudi Arabia has over the years done its best to sabotage climate talks, digs up coal, elected a corrupt fascist in the pocket of Big Coal as their prime minster, absorbs mind rotting fake news from Murdoch, and now is reaping the benefits.

As Australia burns, the prime minister in the pocket of Big Coal sabotaged COP25 climate talks in Madrid, then went on holiday.

This is the moron who once walked walked into Parliament with a lump of coal to pass around.

Last week fascist PM visited a burnt out town. The local residents told him to fuck off. This was their Ceaușescu moment, when Nicolae Ceaușescu stood before a crowd and was booed.

What we are seeing is an Apocalypse of Biblical proportions, and this is only the beginning.

A bookstore in the fire-ravaged village of Cobargo, New South Wales, has a new sign outside that reads:

Post-Apocalyptic Fiction has been moved to Current Affairs

The carbon released by the bush fires into the atmosphere will accelerate towards the climate tipping point, the point of no return.

Smoke from the fires has engulfed New Zealand, turned the glaciers brown, accelerating the melting of the glaciers.

The extent of the fires is such it is generating its own weather system. The temperatures hot enough to cause the metal of cars to melt.

Already over twenty people have died in the fires, the count is mounting daily, more bodies will be found when people return to burnt out towns. But as nothing to the tens of thousands who will die as a result of breathing in the toxic smoke. And it beggars belief the imbecile mayor of Sydney went ahead with New Year fireworks to add to the toxic mix.

Mass destruction of wildlife. Wildlife not burnt alive, dying due to the high temperatures.

Any politician who accepts dirty money from coal is a climate criminal and should be in prison.

Under the fascist Prime Minister, a crack down on unions, civic organisations and journalists. Legislation pending in Tasmania, and expected to be copied across Australia, environmental protesters now face up to 21 years in jail for demonstrating. This is what we are seeing from the Fascist regimes in Poland, Hungary, Turkey, Egypt, India, Bolivia and Brazil.

When the fires are finally put out, Australians need to rise up, remove their prime minister from office, topple the government,  and take direct action, whatever it takes, to shut down the coal industry. And to boycott the poisonous toxic crap from Murdoch and his ilk.

Friday 13th Pepsi Trump Horror Show

December 13, 2019

The forest was shrinking, but the trees kept voting for the Axe, for the Axe was clever and convinced the Trees that because his handle was made of wood he was one of them. — Turkish proverb

Thursday night exit polls showed a massive swing to the Nasty Party. As the results poured in, exit poll confirmed.  I turned off the coverage, it was too depressing.

A nightmare.

A decade of the Nasty Party — zero hours employment, pay less than living wage, poverty, mass closure of libraries, food banks, serfs working for apps, human robots in Amazon warehouses, class warfare, mass transfer of wealth to the rich, tax dodging on an industrial scale, austerity, neo-liberalism, shock doctrine, NHS on point of collapse, disintegration rail infrastructure.

Labour offered a radical progressive future, a green new deal.

But hey what the fuck, let’s vote for Pepsi Trump.

What went wrong? Why did people on the doorstep say No Jeremy Corbyn.

Why?

Wherever Jeremy Cobyn went, he was greeted to rapturous applause, he related to people, in debates he was calm and measured, had good grasp of the issues.

The problem therefore was not Jeremy Corbyn. The problem was the perception of Jeremy Corbyn.

We had the most vicious smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn. And it was not only the usual suspects, Murdoch and The Scum. It was fake-Left Guardian, too often the originators of the smears.

Then we had back bench MPs who thought they had a sinecure for life, wanted to back to the good old days of corrupt Labour, who spent their time sabotaging Labour, aided and abetted by the media, especially BBC News and fake-Left Guardian only too willing to grant them a soapbox.

Again we have to ask why?

Those in poser were scared shitless of radical change. The Deep State was under threat.

Had Labour a leader who would tinkle at the edges, policies that were businesses as usual, the choice of Tweedledum or Tweedledee but no real change, they would have been happy.

Therein lies the dilemma. Labour must not lose sight of the prize, dealing with tax dodgers, bringing in a fairer society, a green new deal.

In the meantime, take to the streets, direct action, form the resistance.

To those who say it was democracy, I suggest visit an exhibition in Berlin at the foot of the Berlin Wall which drawing upon Nazi archives shows how Adolf Hitler and the Nazis rose to power. Adolf Hitler was elected.

In Hungary and Poland, Fascists have been elected. They are shutting down a free press, destroying the judiciary.

When Pepsi Trump failed to attend the Channel 4 Climate Debate and in his place a block of melting ice, unnamed Tory sources threatened to remove the broadcast licence of Channel 4.

We have had Laura Kaunsberg and Robert Peston act and still acting as Pepsi Trump propagandists, drip drip drip of propaganda from unnamed sources. If not on record then do not regurgitate as news. Otherwise being played like a fiddle.

What of the climate?

Five more years of no action on climate. We have seen COP25 collapse with no firm commitment to cut carbon emissions by the levels required, zero carbon by 2030. The climate will not wait, the planet burns whilst corrupt politicians fiddle. What we can guarantee is cataclysmic chaos, brought about by climate change and the rapid deep cuts in carbon emissions that will have to be made.

The longer we leave action, the greater the impact, the deeper the cuts will have to be. How much more flooding, when do we act, do we wait until London is flooded?

I fear for this country. I also feel ashamed.

I know how they felt in US when Donald Trump was elected.

This article has been expanded on Medium under the same title Friday 13th Pepsi Trump Horror Show.

Thomas Cook collapse

September 23, 2019

0200 this morning 178-year-old travel company Thomas Cook went bust.

Over the weekend zombie travel company Thomas Cook kept afloat by the banks had been desperately trying to obtain over £200 million to stay afloat.

Up until the crash senior management had been happily pocketing hefty bonuses and massive salaries.

The crash came as no surprise.

Thomas Cook, outdated businesses model, package holidays.

Last week the failing Cyprus industry looked to tour companies to come to their rescue. It beggars belief they are still operating in the 1960s, failing to obtain direct bookings.

UK government has mounted a rescue exercise. But why charter planes, why send out CAA and Foreign Office staff? Why not use the grounded Thomas Cook planes and crew, the staff located overseas? It would have been cheaper.

A moot point should the government have bailed out Thomas Cook, would have been cheaper than the rescue, on the other hand sends out the wrong message and creates a dangerous precedent to bail out bankrupt companies, as they then become reckless, knowing taxpayer will pick up the tab.

Strange no mention why Thomas Cook found itself in this parlous state, saddled with massive debt with no hope of repaying, unable to service the debt, or criminal behaviour of a former chief executive.

Holidaymakers being threatened by their hotel, money demanded, should not pay. The claim of the hotels is against the administrators of Thomas Cook not holidaymakers who have already paid for their holiday.

With the collapse of Thomas Cook, tui will have a monopoly, they will screw clients, screw hoteliers, not that they have not been doing that for years. Tui must be broken up.

Hoteliers should grasp the opportunity Thomas Cook collapse offers for innovation, move to direct bookings, cut out the middle man who is screwing everyone, receive payment end of stay not end of season, but need to move fast otherwise companies like tui will step into the void and exploit the situation.

Already airlines are profiteering from the collapse, hiking air fares.

 

Catastrophic collapse of retail in Brighton

July 22, 2019

North Laine in Brighton is always busy, no closed shops. Yes businesses close, but a steady turnover, not empty retail units.

Three weeks ago I was shocked at the number of empty retail premises. Two weeks later, ie a week ago, I was further shocked to find not only closed, but many more closing.

A week ago Vinyl Revolution celebrated two years in business by closing.

I paid a visit last week, unfortunately they were already closed.

I was shocked to find The Lanes far far worse than the North Laine in terms of retailers closed.

Duke Street where Vinyl Revolution was located nearly half the shops closed and boarded up, graffiti covered shutters, a sea of To Let Boards as look down the street.

I passed by a new retail development, a row of empty shops, not a single one let, and it is difficult to see they ever will be let when so much retail space sitting empty.

It is difficult to understand why Vinyl Revolution has closed, as their video describes a thriving business, which is why I wished to talk to them.

To blame Brexit is nonsense, equally to blame rail works.

Duke Street was the wrong location. Comments on Brighton Argus echo this.

I never visited therefore cannot comment on their stock, but comments on Brighton Argus describe the stock as crap.

Resident in North Laine an excellent music shop always busy and has in recent years expanded.

If I wanted second-hand vinyl I would visit Ben’s Records in Tunsgate in Guildford. Then pop next door to Krema for a coffee.

Not that I would wish to buy second-hand vinyl as rarely in pristine condition, no guarantee of the condition and highly unlikely to have been played on top end equipment, and equally unlikely anyone with top end equipment would part with their vinyl.

In Resident, new releases always displayed with a limited pressing high quality vinyl.

But even Ben’s Records is struggling.

It is not helped when Market Street and surrounding pedestrianised streets in The Lanes, that pedestrianised is ignored, vehicles parked, vehicles drive through using as short cut, Deliveroo and Uber Eats serfs ride motor scooters through at speed weaving in and out of pedestrians.

Sat outside a coffee shop in The Lanes last week a Ford truck parked outside, engine running, whilst driver having a chat with a passer by.

I have more than once narrowly missed being run down by Uber Eats and Deliveroo serfs, usually learners displaying L plates. Are they insured to carry out business?

Deliveries to the area, and what I observed were not deliveries, should park outside the pedestrianised areas, deliver using hand cart or trolley. The norm in Europe. The Deliveroo and Uber Eats serfs should be required to park in designated zones and walk through, walk through with crash helmets removed.

Deliveroo and Uber Eats serfs should not only be fined for riding through a pedestrianised aream they should be charged with dangerous driving. Sooner or later a child or elderly person will be knocked down and seriously injured. Deliveroo and Uber Eats should terminate their contracts.

Reputable businesses should not be employing Deliveroo and Uber Eats. And it is not only the exploitation and less than minimum wage. If food is ordered to be delivered, it is killing footfall.

There needs to be enforcement by the City Council.

When retail collapse occurs it can happen very fast, as we are now seeing in North Laine and The Lanes. One retailer closes, one less reason to visit the area. At least 10% will always be on the edge, the small loss in footfall sufficient to push them over the edge. Now even less reason to visit. More retailers pushed over the edge.

Businesses I have talked to are worried. They say as businesses around them close, they become isolated, fewer people in the street. Others tell me it is now tough.

What can local government and national government do to support small business? These are the businesses that bring people in, who circulate money within the local economy, who provide local character, who provide a reason to visit Brighton.

Please sign and share the petition launched by Vinyl Revolution calling for government to act to support small retailers.

M&S plastic obscenity

July 19, 2019

The plastic obscenity that is M&S gets worse.

Plastic Free July, but would not know this from visiting M&S.

Shrink-wrapped coconuts, bananas rotting in plastic bags, and just when think cannot get worse, M&S are giving away plastic copies of their produce.

Quite why anyone would wish for plastic replicas of M&S goods is beyond me. More totally unnecessary plastic waste.

Yet another massive retail fail by a failing retailer.

Why is Independent retail being left to die?

July 9, 2019

Our town centres are not dying, they are being destroyed. Destroyed by greedy landlords and profiteering developers, Big Businesses offshoring its money in tax havens, local Town Halls where corrupt planners are in the pocket of greedy developers and Big Business, where planners and councillors are clueless on what constitutes good town centre planning and how local economies function.

I love to visit Brighton.

Train to Gatwick, then to Brighton, but what a bloody pain when rail works, I have learnt do not even try.

When I arrive, I head straight down to the sea and walk along along the seafront, or head into North Laine and the seafront later. In the evening maybe take a walk along the Pier.

In North Laine, spoilt for choice. Excellent coffee shops, Coffee at 33, Pelicano, Dough Lover. Magazine Brighton where can pick up excellent magazines like Drift, Ambrosia, Standart. Infinity Foods or Hisbe for food supplies. Lunch at Iydea or Infinity Foods Kitchen. I always pop in Resident to see what is new.

What is great about North Laine, three long streets, little side streets, is that it is a Mecca of little shops, independent businesses. And not a corporate chain in sight

What though shocked me on a recent visit at the end of June, was the number of empty shops. I had not been in Brighton since last year, more than six months ago. Yes there has always been turnover, shops change, but not empty shops.

Earlier this year I was on a train from Lincoln to Nottingham in the company of three Dutch guys. They were heading to Nottingham for the football. Me, I was heading to some excellent coffee shops.

They asked me why all our towns were the same. The same crap corporate chains selling the same identical crap.

They told me that in Holland they had learnt. The corporate chains had gone, you can buy that crap on-line, to be replaced by individual local shops, coffee shops, little restaurants, in other words what makes North Laine so popular with visitors..

That is what I like in Europe, all the little shops, not corporate chains. Another big plus is that these areas are pedestrianised.

Why would anyone visit a town for the same crap chains that are in every other town?

Once I found myself in the Churchill Shopping Centre in Brighton. It was as though I had entered Dante’s Inferno, a retail version of hell, there should have been a big sign, Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.

In Nottingham, I find excellent little coffee shops, Cobden Chambers, a little courtyard through a gate, where is located a zero wast store, indie record shop, Ideas on Paper (Nottingham’s answer to Magazine Brighton).

It is down the little sideways and allies that we find the independent businesses.

In York the quaint side streets.

It is quirky indie businesses that give the sense of place, character, that recycle money within the local economy.

Corporate chains destroy our towns, they make everywhere look ugly, no character, drain money out of the local economy to offshore in a tax haven. Boots, Starbucks, avoid tax.

Government is at fault but indirectly in failing to deal with tax dodging and pushing austerity which has left people with no spending money.

Greedy rogue landlords are a major problem. They fail to honour their repair obligations, hike rents which do not reflect the prevailing retail environment. They would rather see an empty shop and offset against tax than lower the rent.

In Winchester an excellent coffee shop Flat Whites has recently closed, landlord issues.

Where the fault lies is local Town Halls. Corrupt planners get into bed with greedy developers and Big Business, the planners are clueless on what constitutes good town centre planning or how local economies function.

Also to blame are local tourism bodies and business enterprise zones.

In Lincoln, Sincil Street, similar street scene to North Laine, ruins parallel to the High Street. Once a thriving street of indie businesses. Between the hours of ten in the morning and four in the afternoon the street was busy. Local Coop bought up the street, drove out the local businesses, brought in crap chains, the same crap chains can be found in every ghastly shopping centre across the country.

Visit Lincoln and Lincoln BIG then hyped these chains. Visit Lincoln even took them on board as partners. The head of Visit Lincoln bragged how she took a visitor to Lincoln to Lincoln Cathedral, Lincoln Castle and Cosy Club.  Cosy Club a chain of fake 1930s bars, so fake a Monty Python parody of fake.

Visit Guildford promotes corporate chains, as does Enterprise Guildford.

Visit Lincoln goes overboard to hype chains. When asked why were they promoting 200 Degrees a small coffee chain when Lincoln has two excellent independent coffee shops, the answer was if they pay us we will.

It is not only Vinyl Revolution who are suffering, small businesses across the land are struggling. Unlike corporate chains they care about the local community where they live and work, often they are the backbone, and yet, look at any so-called town centre regeneration, it will brag about the corporate chains that are being brought in, often with low rents and nearly always to the detriment of indie businesses who are driven to the margins, assuming not actually driven out of business, rarely if every get a  mention of the small businesses and where new retail development takes place it is ugly, it is filled with the same crap corporate chains as every other ugly retail development.

An example of this is the recently opened Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre in Guildford, a handful of chains, boarded-up retail units, the only time people are seen is when it is raining and it provides a convention shortcut between the High Street and Castle Street and that is despite being hyped by Visit Guildford and Experience Guildford.

Do not drink the disgusting coffee in  a corporate chain, find an indie coffee shop serving speciality coffee in glass or ceramic. Ask, and they will tell you other coffee shops to try. In Brighton it is even easier,  pick up a copy of The Independent Brighton & Hove Coffee Guide.

I would never dream of buying in HMV, and it was no great loss when it went into administration.

But if I find myself in Guildford, I pop into Ben’s Records. He knows his customers, what they like. But even a shop like Ben’s is suffering.

Several years ago I found Brighton Books open. I heard interesting music playing. I queried what it was. Try Resident, it is the only place you will find it. I looked and could not find. I asked, they went straight to where it was and handed me a copy.

Sadly Brighton Books is one of indie businesses that has recently closed in North Laine.

Please sign the petition launched by Vinyl Revolution calling for government to act to support small retailers.

Experience Guildford presides over collapse of Guildford town centre

June 21, 2019

Experience Guildford presides over or should that be complicit in collapse of town centre retail in Guildford.

It may initially have been a good idea but now Experience Guildford is seen as a parasitical organisation, controlled by Big Businesses, acting for Big Businesses, squandering the money it raises.

Has anyone yet worked out what the Town Rangers are for other than make it appear Experience Guildford are doing something?

It is not acceptable when Experience Guildford promotes Cosy Club, Pho, Tunsgate Quarter zombie shopping centre.

But they are not the only ones doing this. Visit Guildford are also promoting Big Bushiness. Are Visit Guildford doing as Visit Lincoln, taking money to promote crap corporate chains?

Why would anyone visit Guildford for the same crap corporate chains as found in every other town centre?

Visitors come for something unique.