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Video: Whitstable is the UK's 'best town'

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Video: Locals say why
Whitstable is so good

Whitstable is the best town in the UK for its array of
independent shops.

That's according to research out today that shows it has a wider
array of stores than anywhere else.

The results have been released as part of the Clone Town survey
by thinktank nef (new economics foundation).

It revealed 41 per cent of UK towns are clone towns - attracting
a big proportion of chain stores - while a further 23 per cent are
on the verge of becoming a clone town.

But Whitstable scored tops for anywhere in the land - with a
score of 92.1 out of 100 on the shops diversity scale.

Lowest scoring was Cambridge, which managed just 11.6 per cent
on the scale.

Uk's top towns graphic
Uk's top towns graphic

The report says the overall trend towards
"Clone Town Britain", continues, despite widespread publicity about
the loss of local identity following the 2005 Clone Town

Paul Squires, the co-author of the report said: "The towns most
dependent on the big chains and out of town stores have proven to
be most vulnerable to the economic crisis.

"The government's 'Big Society' idea cannot be built on these
fractured local economies, represented so clearly by the empty shop
fronts along our high streets.

"It's not all doom and gloom," he continued. "We found many
towns that are thriving with initiatives to retain local

"The local currency schemes in Lewes and Brixton, for example;
community buy-outs of post offices and pubs from Yorkshire to
Cornwall; and loyalty cards for shopping at independent retailers
from London to Penzance."

Elizabeth Cox, co-author of the report, added: "We need to
completely re-evaluate what we use our high streets for now that
the age of mass retail is juddering to a halt.

"Our high streets could become places where shopping is just one
small part of a rich mix of activities including working, sharing,
exchanging, playing and learning new skills.

"As the hub of our communities, the high street could become the
place where we begin to build a more sustainable world."

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