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									                                “The Way Forward”
                    Safeguarding rural shops and services

             Held at Studley Village Hall on Tuesday 17 June 2003

Workshop leaders: Ken Parsons, Roy Shearing, Sharon Ham
Attendees:          Zoe Hibberd, Janet Yates, Alan Moore, Rachel Billings, Brian
                    Harvey, Peter Michael, Jane Dobson, Steve Ricketts

SEMINAR 1
 What are the most important services in a village: what key services should be
safeguarded?

Pub, shop, post office, school, healthcare, public transport and affordable housing.

Commuters will drive further to buy things.

Good pubs bring people into a village.


Are shops sustainable as commercial propositions?
Is a shop/PO more vital than say a pub because it will be used by more people?

A shop is a HUB. Commercial rather than community led.

When asked, everyone says they want a post office but in reality on 20-30% actually
use it.

Some villages centre on the school.

Working farmers create local employment.


Which way is the trend going?

Declining. Village shops are still closing but we have supported businesses – which has
helped. There is a fine line between success and failure. Replacement shopkeepers
and publicans are hard to find.

Cannot allow commercial enterprises to have subsidies that keep them going when they
might otherwise fail.



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Village shops do more than their core business. Many provide community services eg
dry cleaning, giving directions, noticing if an old person has not been in for a while.
Things are done for which they are not paid. Wychavon gives up to 100% rate relief to
village shops, which is helpful but we need to think more laterally about shops and the
services they provide.

Could some form of payment be found through tax concessions? This is worrying
because it could open the way to all sorts of people jumping on the bandwagon. The
Parish Council could raise funds through the precept, but if the shop were badly run,
then the village would be up in arms.

If a shop provides a service, it needs to ‘market’ it to its customers. Customers cannot
be TOLD that they have to support the shop.

The move towards paying volunteers is a worrying trend.


Looking towards the future

How do we get people to use the facilities?
Allocate funding to do mail shots: do survey first – would you use these services and
how often. Ask what they want/ why don’t you use the village shop. They may say they
don’t want a shop.
One shopkeeper offers free delivery within a 20 mile radius on orders over £5.


Bring together business and community

They are not really separate. Some businesses are ‘hidden’ eg ironing business,
cleaning services – something commuters would value.

District Councils could help set up village web sites to advertise local services.

Increase in home workers: they will need local services.

Church, school, village hall committees provide a social circle. One VH lets a room to
the doctors and another to an accountant. They house a mobile post office service. So
they are providing a service to the village and generating income.

A better understanding of the market will assist shopkeepers to tailor their businesses to
suit local needs.

Research/survey may provide a route. Need to be proactive eg use school children to
deliver and collect survey forms.




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SEMINAR 2

Workshop leaders: Ken Parsons, Roy Shearing, Sharon Ham
Attendees:           Steve Newman, Jeremy Martineau, Dennis Stanley, David
                     Howatson, Richard Jackman, Jean Perry, Alan Jeffrey, Kay Wilson,
                     Graham Leak, Lois Sparling

The community values its shop for the service it provides and not necessarily its
products.

Main services for a general community

Home/work/leisure – a connection of those components of village life – holistic
Accurate and up to date information
Hope for the young
Opportunity for social encounters

Example: Struggling to provide facilities for youth club.
Access to local doctor service (aging population)
Better bus service
Small social place

Bishops Tachbrook: Funding won for detached worker but finding it difficult to recruit.
People like to stay rural but like to drive to ASDA 100% say they want a shop but wont
support it – needs an entrepreneur!

Martley: School, shop and pub are the three places where people meet. Few
householders use the village hall. (??)

Current planning policy is self-defeating. Approval is only given for housing in areas
with services. So small villages without them will never have the opportunity to expand
and drain away.

Villages are uniquely different. Some are just dormitory.
District Council is carrying out poverty mapping – 5 people on poverty line vs 2 car
families who can drive out. Need to provide for those who cannot go (Tesco provide a
free bus).

There is an assumption that those who live in rural areas should accept a lower level of
service. People in towns expect access to doctor, school and food. More repeat visits
are made by townspeople to do top up shops for basic foodstuffs at supermarkets.

Rural Planning Guidance concentrates on urban regeneration with nothing going to the
rural areas except affordable housing. This is a dilemma for the villages.
People cannot drink and drive as they used to: successful pubs rely on food.

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How can we get households to engage?

Increase personal benefit that comes from using a service. Get the community to
commit eg financially as at Long Marston. Often down to the people running the shops
– training still needed: share best practice: draw attention to what makes some shops
successful.

Longer opening hours provide extra business but not necessarily a better standard of
living for the shopkeeper. So why should they do this when the rewards are so poor?
Survey the customers and find out when they really need access to the shop – times
and days.

Farm shops are taking some of the business away from supermarkets because they
now offer a range of fresh and local produce.

Education and business acumen would help local shops to stock good products –
bread, cakes, veg (Villages Direct).

Suggested a facility be set up to deliver stock to shops within a 25mile radius to save
the time of going out to wholesalers or whatever.

Can the post office deliver door-to-door? Yes, but it has to be paid for. Encourage a
flexible policy on community information and activity (Parish Mag is delivered regularly,
so why not use existing facility?) Village magazine may be the vehicle: networking
opportunity. Web site is extremely exclusive.

* Communication channels

 Planning system was the key to opening Long Marston: training accessed through
 colleges.

 Need a flexible system to help.

* This is an example of good practice – build up database: take people to see what
  others have achieved.

*Better promotion may encourage people to use their facilities.




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SEMINAR 3

Workshop leaders: Ken Parsons, Roy Shearing, Sharon Ham
Attendees:           Bryan Haines, Margaret Gray, Martin Gibbins, Jan Browne, Richard
                     Quallington, Penelope Bossom, Sue Juned.

Key Services

Village Hall – multi purpose/ Community should need it and use it
Snitterfield shop –good example of a successful shop
Communication – want to use broadband to link all villages
Use local pub, gun club, people’s houses: there is nowhere else to go so people focus
there: so, social interaction is more important than having a facility.

Village hall activity has to break even but people running it do not have to be paid.

Improve community engagement with commercial enterprise?

Pub will not suit everyone unless it is flexible – drink, food, family room. Open in the
morning for older people to come in and use a computer. In some villages the local pub
provides the only employment to young people who cannot drive and there are no
buses. Garage does the same with pumping fuel.

This may generate loyalty but if you are too young to use the pub and have nowhere to
go, the young people hang around and then become a nuisance.

How can we encourage that sense of social responsibility?

P Bossom says people bump into each other in the fish and chip queue.
Communicate to aggregate to achieve critical mass.
Do not introduce technology in isolation. People still need to get together otherwise its
like locking yourself up in a prison.

Some communities have cricket and rugby clubs who provide a venue. Ex bank
managers are the club and society treasurers – of everything!

Need to get 18-30yr olds involved. Older members have stepped back and resigned to
let the younger element have a chance. As a group they saw the sustainable future
through younger people.

Engage, keep and sustain – its difficult. Things collapse when people move on and no-
one wants to take over. Things cannot stay the same, they must evolve.

PO software is archaic. We need to make sure the service provider is up-skilled – VV
can help here.
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Promote values and awareness. A celebration of what can be achieved within the
community. If people feel involved and own it, sustainability is assured ‘Its your facility’.

Social network/multi function.

There are local organisations that could actively encourage people to change their
attitudes eg Parish Council.

There has to be a driver within the community.

Without the will it is difficult to engender that enthusiasm.

Shops need competitive prices for those who have no option to go elsewhere.
(compare price and transport – 35p per mile to drive – any merit in telling people of the
costs involved to persuade them to shop locally?))




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