CARDIGAN’S unique mix of independent shops and cafes is what makes it stand out from the crowd and should be preserved and encouraged if the town is to continue to develop and thrive.

Cllr Clive Davies is keen that Cardigan does not become ‘a clone town’ where big-name chain stores move in and dominate the high street, to the detriment of local businesses.

“We keep hearing how Cardigan is unique, with so many different independent shops and eating places and not so many of the clone chain stores,” said Cllr Davies when he raised the matter before the town council.

“Cardigan is now on the radar, having attracted favourable national reviews in the likes of The Great British High Street Awards and The Guardian and we need to be aware of that and also what policies are in place with Ceredigion in the county development plan to help to protect the value of the local pound.

“There has been a flurry of new businesses opening and we seem to be bucking the trend when it comes to the decline of the high street. I counted 12 new businesses have opened since April and currently five usable high street properties which are empty.

"I am not against the chain stores moving in but we have to keep it in check and we must not displace or threaten what is in place already.

"Tere needs to be a delicate balance and identify what provision gaps in Cardigan are there to give opportunities to retailers, hether a chain or not. I have been in touch with county planners to see where we stand and what policies are in place as we draw up the new Local Development Plan.

“It is those existing independent businesses, set up by local people, that is making Cardigan what it is today and proving attractive to visitors and locals alike.

“Visitors will look for a McDonald's, a Subway or a Costa, for example because they know what they offer and therefore they won’t explore Cardigan’s own unique offer for eateries because that is the nature of people.

“We don’t want to be like Aberystwyth or Carmarthen. Cardigan is not another ‘clone town’.

“Some national chains are fine but certain aspects such as food and coffee, we don’t need any more and we need to be aware of that.

“We need to have more say in ensuring we keep our brand and experience of independents mixed with a select number of chains which work with the fabric of the town.

"The final draft of Cardigan's place plan is being put together now with comments from a year of consultation from Cardigan and surrounding villages. It highlights uniqueness and specific needs as a market town and key development opportunities such as the old hospital site and Cardigan cattle market."

Cardigan mayor Cllr Shan Williams added: “The next generation especially need to think about what they want for Cardigan and the impact of buying on line or out of town.

“We want people to stay here, keep the money in the local economy and encourage apprenticeships and jobs.”