The results of the survey circulated through last month’s Slaley News were revealed at a well-attended public meeting on 15 November. Jerry Cleall-Harding, member of the steering group set up to find a future for the shop when Margaret and Roy retire, reported that 176 responses had been received – a remarkable response. 54% of these feel that a shop is ‘essential’ to the village, and a further 41% believe it to be ‘useful but not essential’. Even more remarkably, 40 people have volunteered to help run the shop and many others have pledged support in other ways such as fund-raising.
The survey revealed that most people look to the shop for milk, eggs, newspapers and magazines, with groceries and fresh local produce not far behind. Other ideas include a café, stamps, cash machine, parcel collection service and medicines, though this will be managed next year by Lloyd’s Pharmacy.
We’ve learnt a lot from the experience of Humshaugh Village Shop and its leader, Dick Moules. Not only has their shop remained a vital community hub but since 2009 had even managed to raise £50,000 for community ventures.
It’s clear from the Plunkett Foundation that advises and supports community shop ventures nationally, that the right site, size and a professional and commercial-looking appearance are vital factors in success. The present shop site is ideal, but David Allsopp told the meeting that there’s a significant gap between the public money available at a very low rate to the Parish Council to buy the shop and the price asked by Margaret and Roy. We hope we can find a mutually acceptable compromise, but as County Councillor Colin Horncastle reminded the meeting, everyone wants to see Margaret and Roy receive a fair return for their hard work. Lots of people have expressed deep gratitude for all that Margaret and Roy continue to contribute to the community.
Other sites were discussed, including a new build beside the Commemoration Hall and even a new greenfield site (Councillor Horncastle’s suggestion). Neither of these would be ideal, but nothing is ruled out.
At the end of the meeting several people came forward to join the management committee. Jerry warmly thanked all those who’ve helped so far, especially Michael Elphick who prepared the survey. Even though we have bridges to cross, Jerry feels that exciting times are ahead and he’s delighted at the enthusiasm of those who want to get aboard the project. “Slaley punches well above its weight in many ways,“ he said. “I’m confident that residents will rally round to maintain the sustainability of the village.”
Jerry can be contacted by phone on: 01434 673911 or by email to: email@example.com