Closure of shop is bad news for our town
2:14pm Monday 14th October 2013 in Letters
THE closure of Sadlers Fish and Game shop, a business that has been running for 114 years, is bad news for Penarth and a wake-up call to those of us who value the enormous service provided to residents and visitors by our local traders. Few of us would want to keep our town centres as museum pieces, but most of us want to maintain that mix of businesses – food, clothes, newsagents, entertainment, cafés and professional services – that make up a vibrant community and a local economy which provides much local employment.
Having been involved through the GPG (Gwyrddio Penarth Greening) Shop in Penarth Scheme (SiP) for nearly four years, we know just how hard our local retailers work, and that many operate on narrow profit margins and probably take financial risks that people on regular incomes would be terrified by, we also know how many of them provide what can only be described as a ‘hidden social service’ as they chat to their regulars and keep an eye out for the old and the vulnerable. Most give generously to local charities. Some businesses are doing really well, and that is good news for them and for us!
There is undoubtedly a threat to local businesses across the country: changing shopping habits, the recession, too many supermarkets, and high business rates. Locally, we also have the problems of parking and more recently the chaos caused by the roads being dug up. There is also the problem of the mix of businesses – people congregate where they are attracted by a balance of shops and services.
Here in Penarth, that mix is gradually changing, this could alter the look and feel of the town for ever. The restored Pier Pavilion is magnificent, the parks are remarkable, the churches impressive, the seafront invigorating, but without the independent businesses what would Penarth really become? Not the kind of place that is said to be ‘one of the most desirable places in which to live in the UK’!
Can this threat to local shops and businesses be reversed? We believe it can, given a huge shift in thinking and attitudes – by us, the residents, by the politicians (local and national) and by some of the retailers themselves. The following are a few comments/ideas to kick start a crucial discussion – they are not new and readers will have many more. Penarth Times please help us with this – you are also part of that invisible web which binds the community together.
1 Regular Penarth shoppers - encourage others!
2 ‘Occasional local shoppers’- occasional doesn’t do it – please become regulars
3 Retailers: more thought about how younger people shop and do business?
4 Parking: It’s better with wardens, but more help is needed for those who genuinely can’t walk far. Encourage use of public transport.
5 Tell our politicians to take this issue seriously, particularly in relation to bank loans and business rates.
6 Find out what mix of businesses and services are really needed across the town and help new ones to choose the right sites
7 Look at what we haven't got – cafés for children and teenagers, activities for young and old – the unusual does attract.
8 Enhance the general look of the town – seats, trees, flower baskets, encourage people to stop, relax, socialise and shop.
9 Get involved in the town council’s Town Centre Planning initiative.
10 Use your SiP card, or if you haven't got one, look for the SiP sign and buy one.
This is only a prompt list. If anyone wants to help us in our efforts to help make Penarth a more viable, sustainable place in which to live and work, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 07506 272224 or write to the Penarth Times.
On behalf of GPG and the SiP scheme, we would like to thank Duncan and Peter Lewis for the decades of service they have given the town, and remember with respect Charles Sadler who established his Fish and Game business all those years ago.