"The traders are the lifeblood of Totnes and that means they are the lifeblood of the community. Get rid of the shops and the place is dead, or it's a museum," Jonathan Dimbleby, BBC presenter and local resident.
"Totnes has been a thriving market town since Roman times. It has survived in recent times despite the recession and the rise of supermarkets... Totnes is a trading town – it’s a prosperous, wonderful town and its going to become a ghost town if we don’t do something now,” Film director Peter Richardson.
STAG (Sustainable Totnes Action Group) represents businesses, residents and traders in Totnes and the surrounding area. To save our unique town of Totnes being changed forever, STAG needs to raise £25,000 to defend the case we won in the High Court last year against Devon County Council, which is now taking it to the Court of Appeal.
What is the court case all about?
Totnes is famous for being a town that defies convention. It rejected Costa Coffee, it has its own currency and its high street boasts a unique collection of independent shops run by local people that you won’t find anywhere else.
But we are at risk of losing that uniqueness as shops close down due to a devastating drop in footfall through the town following a decision by a Devon County Council committee in 2013 to reverse the flow of traffic in our main street.
Charity shops are multiplying and chain stores arriving - and we know that once the unique quality of Totnes High Street is lost, it will be gone forever.
The result of the traffic order is chronic congestion of displaced traffic, disorientated visitors missing the town centre altogether, illogical traffic routing that has put locals off using shops and services and mayhem for delivery drivers and importantly an increase in the number of accidents on the street.
DCC imposed the traffic order without proper consultation and claimed the new layout would be good for business. Evidence shows they got it wrong.
So STAG took them to the High Court in Bristol for unlawfully imposing the traffic order.
We won our case and DCC was told to reverse the traffic back to its original flow.
They refused to comply and took their case to the Court of Appeal in London, where it will be heard in April 2016.
Despite the conditions of austerity that DCC operates in, it is now prepared to risk up to £100,000 of taxpayers’ money to continue the litigation.
STAG offered to settle out of court in October 2015 if DCC upheld the ruling, in order to save this phenomenal waste of everyone’s money, but DCC refused, forcing us to press ahead with this costly and unnecessary action.
We have to act now to save our town – every £10 or £20 you can give will help us towards our target so please give what you can.
This is our last chance and we really need your help to fund our legal campaign.
We need to raise at least £50,000 - local businesses and backers have pledged around £25,000 already, but we need at least another £25,000 to fund the costs of defending our case - so we are asking you to help.
Why do we care about this?
We care about this because businesses, and the whole character of the town, are under threat. A once thriving market town is now seriously at risk of changing beyond all recognition.
We care about this because Devon County Council have refused to listen to us, they skewed the figures they presented when they made the traffic order permanent and they misrepresented how many objections they received. They have been found guilty in court of unlawfully imposing the traffic order and we believe they should abide by the law and rescind it.
This case is about more than Totnes. It is about a County Council committee, made up of people who are not local, making a decision that has severely affected the livelihood and future of a town they don’t live in, work in, or understand. And it is about a County Council that is not prepared to accept that they have made a mistake, and put it right.
How will we spend your money?
The money will be spent on preparing our case for the Appeal Court hearing in April 2016, to cover our lawyers’ fees and the costs of the County Council in case they win their appeal.
If we win, which we are confident of doing, money that remains after paying our legal team will be put towards the creation of a safe, shared space in Totnes Fore Street and High Street. This is what we have campaigned for since the traffic order was first introduced as an experiment.