FUEL, as the Gazette highlighted last week, affects all facets of our life in modern Britain and because the price keeps on rising we all have a lot less to spend.

Be it putting I fuel into our vehicle tanks or using it to heat our hones the cost it appears goes up and up and the Government continues to increase tax when they think they can get away with it.

But may I point out another affect which is not good for small towns like Alnwick.

The recently announced closure of the CC fashion shop in Narrowgate is a blow to our shopping appeal and also to those staff who will be losing their employment. It looked for a time that more and more shops like CC would come to Alnwick.

Dorothy Perkins was the first then we had CC and then M&Co. It gave a wide spread to different fashions to add to those longer established businesses.

But now walk the streets of our town look into shop window after shop window and you will find hardly a shopper in any. Our streets at no time in recent months could be described as busy. In fact at some period they look deserted.

Enter some shops and you are nearly pounced on by a shop assistant. They will sometime greet you as though they had not seen a living soul for days.

Go 20 miles down the road to Morpeth and you see a bustling market town. The new development has attracted prestige outlets, and despite the horrendous upheaval caused by the utility companies ripping up road after road the places is busy.

More disturbing you will find many an Alnwick couples there. They will tell you that the now do their shopping in Morpeth and fill up their car tanks with fuel while they are there.

The reason is a much wider choice over many items and they refuse to be held to ransom by the one and only Alnwick garage.

It must be hard for the Alnwick traders trying to compete against towns such as this.

We all know the argument that Morpeth had double the population of Alnwick and draws in a much wider crowd but it also is only a few miles from Newcastle city centre which can offer there an even wider number of shopping outlets.

The fear is that Alnwick is becoming better known for its charity shops that for its trade outlets. Rumours have it that the next tenants of the CC shop will be yet another charity, which would make a total of six, if confirmed.

We all know that charity begins at home but this is becoming a cause for concern.

Alnwick is popular with tourists and we all know that the winter months are the quietest in the year for many a shop. That may be acceptable in the short term but as more and more people drift away to other shopping outlets more and more Alnwick businesses will be put at risk.

The only growth seems to be in restaurants, cafes and coffee shops, and here again how many can Alnwick sustain in the winter months?

Let us hope that our local Chamber of Trade takes this on board and comes up with a solution to get us through next winter without more closures and more charity shops.

IT now seems that no place will be sacrosanct from those dreaded wind farms.

I believe this is so following the comments by the new Energy Secretary Ed Davey that turbine opponents who protests over the impact on beautiful landscapes will never win him over.

I do not know how many wonderful, wild landscapes, like we have in Northumberland the MP has in his constituency of Kingston and Surbiton, but I bet none can compare and are being threatened by windfarm after windfarm application.

They seem to come thick and fast on a weekly basis and more and more of our unspoiled countryside is being threatened. It is time for a rethink.