A community fights back

Seaton is the last little town in East Devon, four miles further east and you’re in Lyme Regis, Dorset. It lies between the red sandstone and the white Jurassic cliffs that this coastline is famous for. An unspoilt place, it is surrounded by miles of saltmarsh and has a population of eight or nine thousand people.
A few years ago that changed. A large supermarket chain bought a holiday village close to the saltmarsh, which had 150 staff and 40,000 visitors a year and promptly made them redundant and closed it down! This was in 2008, three years later the chain opened their store and employed some 250 staff.
Now, as is always the case, the supermarket chain is able to sell food, clothes, electrical goods and pertrol at really low prices, hence the townspeople and others living in surrounding villages go there instead of the town shops. This store is one of ten that the giant has within a twenty two mile radius.
Seaton’s small town centre became a sleepy place with shops, some of which had traded for many years, closing down. It became less appealing to holiday makers who also had one less option of affordable places to stay with the loss of the holiday village.
This is a story that can be told of many towns around the UK. Another, Crediton in mid Devon has seen it’s High street shops close recently, victim of the same large chain, whose profits rise year on year.
The supermarket chain is reported to have contributed to a new visitor center opening in 2015, SeatonJurassic. No doubt this will help to increase visitor numbers, but 2015 is a long time if you run a business that is struggling to survive. The district council has plans to develop the Axe Valley Wetlands nature reserve, hopefully the supermarket will not be too visible from there!At present there is small, part-time visitor centre run by volunteers, this is Seaton fighting back.
I was in Seaton yesterday for an artisan market. Since September the town development team have organised these markets right in the centre meeting park area. They are well advertised and attended, this is Seaton Community fighting back. I was busy on the stand and unable to take many photos, but Santa was there, musicians playing Christmas songs, as well as local children carol singing and the town crier making sure everyone knew about it.
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This is a really friendly town with a nice beach, beautiful countryside around and the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.
This post is my entry for the http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/12/13/photo-challenge-community/ and comes with apologies for the quality of the photos.

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17 thoughts on “A community fights back

  1. When companies open these large chain stores they are certainly not thinking of the good of people and their livelihood. It is wonderful this village is fighting back otherwise a certain type of life will be lost.

  2. We have big box stores that have moved in to our area and many shops closed down as a result but the community built a little shopping area with new specialty shops that people love and now both types of stores co-exist peacefully selling different merchandise. Consumers are the happiest of all! Enjoyed your post and wish the community well with their efforts!

  3. Seaton is a lovely place, and in a beautiful part of the country. We have visited many times in the past. I’m guessing that I know to which supermarket chain you refer and I have to admit that I haven’t shopped in one, or for a very long time. I don’t think they have a care for any community, not even their own, judging by some of the remarks made by their CEO…..

  4. Good on the people of Seaton. This has happened in Australia as well. The town of Maleny successfully stopped Woolworths from setting up and hence forcing the closure of local businesses. Seaton is in a lovely part of the country so I wish them well.

  5. Well done to this community, Gilly. Love the fact that you have a Town Crier…….. Oyez, Oyez, Oyez. 🙂 I’m sure that all the effort being put in to revive this town, will be rewarded. The market looks lovely. 🙂

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