PEOPLE are right to be concerned by the reduction in the number of shops in the city centre with the seemingly inexorable rise of cafés and restaurants.

One of the reasons for the lack of empty units in the city centre is the huge demand not just from retailers but also from food and drink outlets of various kinds.

Our front page story today highlights the worries that the city centre is getting out of kilter, that people will be dissuaded from coming to the city because of the limited range of shops.

As an aside, had Silver Hill gone ahead we would now be well on the way for dozens of new units in that development.

Just as the city council has belatedly moved to stop the unchecked spread of offices being converted into homes, so it should also investigate how it can make it harder for premises to be changed like this.

High Street shops are under enough pressure from the rise of the internet and the clutter of the market traders.

There are times when democratically elected authorities can step in and say the operation of the free market is harming the public good. If there weren’t such times, then nightclubs would stay open all night.

It would be too easy to be complacent about the future of the High Street and then wake up and see we have sleepwalked into a mess.