[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Sunday, 5 June, 2005, 16:19 GMT 17:19 UK
Devon city tops 'clone town' poll
Exeter city centre
Exeter city centre's manager said branding it a "clone town" was unfair
Cathedral city Exeter has topped a poll to find Britain's blandest high street.

Researchers found chainstores dominated the main shopping street, with just one independent shop out of 50.

Independent think tank the New Economics Foundation (NEF) said the survey showed how Britain's towns were becoming "clone towns".

But Exeter city centre's manager said branding it a "clone town" was unfair on the city which had a wide range of independent stores in other streets.

There is street after street with a massive range of small independent stores
John Harvey, city centre manager

John Harvey told BBC News: "They must have been surveying a different city centre because it is a picture neither I nor any business people associated with the city would recognise.

"There is street after street with a massive range of small independent stores and Exeter is a shoppers' destination because of the range of interesting stores we have."

He added: "I don't see it as a negative thing to have so-called clone shops.

"Today's independents are tomorrow's chain stores and the shops that thrive are the ones that people spend their money in."

'Triple whammy'

The NEF said 41% of urban centres were clone towns where independently-owned shops were in short supply and 26% risked losing their distinctiveness.

Hebden Bridge in the Yorkshire Pennines was named the community with the most varied and locally-distinct high street.

Wimbledon's high street was named the most anonymous in London, while Shepherd's Bush had the greatest variety.

NEF policy director Andrew Simms said: "Clone stores have a triple whammy on communities: they bleed the local economy of money, destroy the social glue provided by real local shops that holds communities together, and they steal the identity of our towns and cities."

The NEF survey is based on 103 national and 27 London surveys completed by members of the public in communities with between 5,000 and 150,000 residents.


SEE ALSO:
Signs of the times
16 Mar 05 |  Magazine
Think tank warns on 'clone towns'
28 Aug 04 |  Business


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific