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Big slump in post-Christmas sales in the South West

People shopping in Drakes Circus in Plymouth just before Christmas Credit: ITV News

Business leaders in the South West are warning of more doom and gloom on our region's High Streets.

Despite huge discounts in many stores, post-Christmas sales figures are down 15% on last year. It's thought many shops are struggling to compete with sales online.

Even on Christmas Day we've now got those figures back it looks as though there was something like 130 million hits online again and that is really taken the steam out of the high street.

It is worrying because High Streets are really important to our communities.

– Tim Jones, Devon & Cornwall Business Council

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Dartmoor Zoo becomes a charity after crowd-funding campaign

A zoo that inspired a Hollywood film has become a charity.

It comes after an online crowd-funding appeal to raise £1.6m for Devon's Dartmoor Zoo closed on Monday after raising nearly £340,000.

The appeal was boosted by an anonymous gift of £300,000 from a mystery donor. Director Ben Mee said the gaining of the new status meant the zoo's future was "as secure as it has ever been".

Benjamin Mee bought the tourist attraction after the death of his wife Katherine in 2006, inspiring the film 'We Bought A Zoo', which starred Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson.

Dartmoor Zoo looks after a wide range of wild and exotic animals from tigers to tortoises Credit: ITV News

Two shopping days to Christmas!

Many shops are reporting a rise in sales this Christmas Credit: PA

With Christmas looming fast, many shops in the South West are reporting sales up on last year. Saturday and Sunday was one of the busiest weekends of the year for Drake Circus in Plymouth - but the shopping centre is expecting today and tomorrow to be even busier.

In terms of online shopping we've definitely seen a big shift this year in terms of going to click and collect.

– Greg Lumley, Drake Circus

Looe fisherman says quotas were already too low

Fisherman Dave Bond says quotas were already too low Credit: ITV West Country/Kathy Wardle

Dave Bond has fished out of Looe for 36 years. He says EU quotas are taking their toll on the fleet.

Next year's quotas aren't quite as hard hitting as feared. But there are still reductions to sole, cod, haddock and plaice. Quotas for species like megrim and monkfish will stay the same.

Dover sole's used to be three months work for me, and now I can't even fish Dover Sole's because we catch our quota for the month in less than an hour, it's ridiculous.

No cut is a good cut in our eyes, the base figures they started with weren't good. From our point of view as a ten metre boat, we had insufficient quota when it first started so any cut is obviously just another nail in the coffin really.

– Dave Bond, fisherman

Fishing expert warns South West fisherman will suffer

Plymouth Fisheries Manager warns fishermen in the South West will lose out Credit: David Cheskin/PA

Plymouth Fisheries manager Pete Bromley has warned that fishermen in the South West may still be forced out of the industry despite the Government securing what it claimed was a “fair deal” at European talks to agree new quotas.

The EU Fisheries and Agriculture Council meeting ended late last night. Whilst the outcome was not as devastating as initially feared, the long-term impact of the new deal would still have far-reaching negative effects.

The new quotas are the best result for the South West fishing industry that we could have hoped for from what is now accepted to be a bad management system, and admittedly not the disaster we first feared. But whilst they may not herald the demise of the industry entirely, they will still increase the pressure on fishermen already struggling to operate viable businesses.

Maintaining the quota of some species at the same level as last year might be seen as a ‘win’ but the operating costs of fishing vessels in the coming year doesn’t stay the same; costs like fuel and fishing nets inevitably increase. Therefore simple economics means once again, fishermen will be worse off – and in some cases, possibly forced out of the industry or face having to reduce the number of their crew to stay viable.

Quotas are still continually being set too low, often because of flawed, inaccurate or insufficient scientific data, but there comes a point where fishermen will go out of business if they are not allowed to catch enough fish to pay the bills.

– Pete Bromley, Manager of Plymouth Fisheries and Harbour Master of Sutton Harbour
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