I was very disappointed, but not surprised, to hear that Waterstone's (bookshop) in Slough is to close. Yet another empty shop makes the town an even less viable place to visit, creating a downward spiral.
Whilst trading conditions may not be excellent, the situation has been made worse by Slough Council, which has imposed parking charges on town centre roads, harassed motorists with a draconian parking enforcement regime (designed to make money rather than keep the streets clear) and spent 18 months digging up the High Street.
While much of these damaging measures were introduced by the BILLD/Conservative coalition, Labour clearly agrees with them as it has done nothing to improve matters since winning control of the council in May 2008.
In fact things have got worse, as since coming to power, Labour has closed the Brunel car park, putting an even greater strain on Tesco's car park, to the extent that Tesco's patrons cannot find a space to park in.
Additionally, instead of using parking policy as a way of assisting the town's viability, Labour has washed its hands of the matter - in its latest parking policy approved on 20th September 2010, it delegated Slough's parking policy to unelected and unaccountable council officers.
Despite their 46% pay rise, it would therefore seem that Labour councillors are incapable or disinterested in representing their community, instead leaving policy to council employees who usually do not live in Slough and are often more interested in their pay, pensions and perks. Labour councillors are sidestepping their responsibilities and we see the result in the decaying and desolate High Street.
Policy statement No. 4 of the council's parking policy states that the council must 'take into account the needs of local residents, shops and businesses thereby sustaining the Borough's economic growth'. This is not being done. No wonder Waterstone's is shutting up shop.