Devon

Traders angry at Exeter council's John Lewis investment

Generic photo of a John Lewis store
Image caption Independent traders feel overlooked by the council's bid to attract big name stores

Independent traders in Exeter have accused the city council of neglecting them in favour of attracting John Lewis to the city.

Exeter City Council is spending £2m on improving the road layout and car park by the store near Princesshay.

The city's Chamber of Commerce said it hoped to help traders with plans to set up a business improvement district.

Larger businesses would pay a percentage of their rates to improve areas like Fore Street in the city.

But Ben Parry who runs a cafe on Fore Street said: "They don't spend anything down here. All they seem to do is put up car parking charges."

Exeter City Centre Manager John Harvey said he was surprised at the reaction from some of the local traders.

"Getting John Lewis at Home to come to Exeter is a huge coup. It will attract shoppers from across the region.

"I simply cannot understand why it is that anyone would be critical of investment that is improving the shopping environment."

Councillors claim investing in improving traffic flow and parking near the new John Lewis store would bring many benefits for the whole city and the council will recoup its investment.

Exeter City Council leader Peter Edwards said: "It's a win-win situation."

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