Trophy Blog #110 –
Mixed news has arrived two years after the High Street Portas project was put in place in
various locations. "Queen of Shops" celebrity Mary Portas has received positive reviews,
but at the same time, come under fire after her mission to revive the UK's High Streets.
Twelve town centres had been chosen, and the government provided £1.2m in funding.
A local group of business men and women applied on behalf of Selby at the time, but
we're unsuccessful in the main funding. However £10,000 was issued to the Selby enterprise
to help with a future project. This is still in the planning stage and more news will be
issued via the Selby Times once announced. The whole project was filmed and aired on TV
two years ago. During the programmes, Mary issued some basic recommendations to each
location such as a reduction in business rates and free local parking, but these we're
ignored by the councils. The money helped finance five retail outlets in Wolverhampton.
Three of them have been a success, one has diversified, and the fifth went bust. Four out
of five is a good success rate as the economy was in a nose dive at the time, but people
will focus on the negatives of the 5th business folding. Chairman of the Government's
Business Select Committee, Adrian Bailey, has been critical of the scheme: "You will not
change the basic problems of the High Street just by putting in these sort of pilots”.
However Penny Maudaunt, the High Streets Minister, says the scheme has been successful.
"There has been a huge amount of really good work and ideas come out of the project,
some ideas may not have worked so well, what we have to do now is replicate the positives
in other High Streets."
Trophy Blog #67 ~ This piece was written for my newspaper column last year >>> Selby has a number of large empty shops currently doing nothing. The old Kwick Save and Do It All stores are boarded up, sat collecting dust. Here’s one idea, while the owners and agents are waiting for the next big name to come along, why not open them up as temporary markets. It already works in other towns around the country. We are, after all a ‘market’ town. We hear of various rumours of famous brands coming into Selby, but nothing has happened yet. I have mentioned this in an earlier column, could we transform empty shops into a temporary home for local traders, gift makers and people dipping their toe in the retail world. Established shop owners could even branch out and test the water with a new idea or division. The Kwick Save store for example, could become an indoor market much like the old ‘In shops’. As the winter weather affects the number of stools on the Monday market, (I recently didn’t see any stalls outside Selby Abbey on a Monday morning during the snow), could the promise of being indoors attract both stall owners and customers alike? Local schools could run one stall each week to give our future businessmen and woman a taste of running a company. A small Cafe could be set up and local charities could have a free stall to promote themselves. You never know, if it is successful ‘In shops II’ could stay.
Trophy Blog #59 – From a newspaper column printed earlier in the year ~ Following on from the story on page three of last weeks Selby Times & Post, I fully agree with Richard Schofield, owner of Gowthorpe shop Heaven & Home had to say. We need to be attracting people into Selby, not forcing them away. Currently the fines are collected by Harrogate Council. Why? they won the tender, but why did we even put it out for tender?? If it costs a bit more to give the contract to a local company, then support these local businesses. If the money collected from the fines was known to be going back into Selby town centre, then maybe people would look at in a more positive way, they might even respect it more and stop parking where they shouldn’t. We should be collecting our own money and using it to finance an hours free parking on a quiet Monday Market day or bring back the free Saturday afternoon offer. Like Richard, I also regularly speak to my customers who visit our office and showroom. Normally the first thing they say to me before they have even looked at a Trophy is about parking issues. In the last fortnight I have been parking my own car in the old council car park while the roadworks have been on. On two occasions different people have asked me about the silly card machine it has. Both of these cases resulted in them driving away even after I offered help. This machine needs replacing with a coin option to pay straight away. Why has Tadcaster got free parking when Selby hasn’t? Could we put on our own version of a Park and Ride system? Have a bus leaving the huge car park at the cattle market on the business park every twenty minutes and people pay a quid each way to save them looking for a space.
– Trophy Blog #58 – From my newspaper column – Over the last few weeks I have been involved in various discussions via the facebook group ‘SOS Selby’ about the state and attractiveness of our shops and businesses in the town centre. One positive highlight is the new Home Bargains superstore has now opened. A lot of jobs have been created and effort has been put into tidying up the surrounding car park. Recent reports in the Selby Times & Post, show that it attracted many people on it’s opening weekend.
Closer to the town centre we had the sad news about two shops closing down. Hopefully, the Good 2 Go shop will be sold ‘as is’ and reopen as a similar style takeaway / sandwich shop – which is great news for my healthy lunches! Also, the word on the street is the Select clothes shop is hopefully being helped into relocating somewhere else.
We are very lucky that we have only a few empty shops compared to other town centres in the country. We only have five or six prime located shops sat ready on Gowthorpe for the next business owner to move into. My idea is for the ‘powers that be’ to use a tiny part of the £9 MILLION leisure centre budget, to tidy up the sad looking shops. If you was moving house, you’d give it a lick of paint to attract future owners, so why not do it to the shops? If the landlords and owners do not want to play ball then perhaps the council could make it happen. The section that fined the Anchor Inn land owners for not doing anything to the eyesore near Burn, could be tasked with tidying up the high street. Shops could be spruced up, and be ready for people such as Select to move straight into in time for Peak trading at Christmas.
Blog #11 – Taken from this weeks ‘Business Matters’ Newspaper column: ~ The modern high street has ’empty shop syndrome’. It’s not just Selby, our nearby local hubs in Snaith, Sherburn and Tadcaster have it as well. When I started my company in 2011, one of the first things on my list was to go out and rent a nice shop. ‘This must be easy’ I thought, as at the time Gowthorpe had two or three ready and waiting. We decided that the old Booze Busters shop would be ideal and enquired about it. After many phone calls and countless emails my options became very limited, admittedly we had a very small budget to work with at the time, but I didn’t want to go bust before we even started. Sadly it is still empty today. Many estate agents and owners wanted a huge bond or a never ending contract. Could I have a 3 month trail I asked? The reply was very short. Could I give it a lick of paint for free and see how I get on? I asked, again the answer was negative. If something is done about this, then the high street would be buzzing again.
Recently I read a report about our empty shops being turned into homes. I think this could be a positive idea. For a start it will create jobs for builders and decorators. Anything to add the all important ‘footfall’ into the high street is good for jobs and businesses. Thinking forward, while this process is being put into place, small shops and businesses might be helped by these powers into expanding to bigger premises or extending the premises they already have. This will create even more local jobs.
Blog #7 – Version one of a newspaper column I did recently. It was later edited to be themed on Jobs in the local area. –
As the world rapidly moves forward, I find myself trying to keep up to date with various online groups such as the Save our Selby SOS facebook group. I was recently asked by them to choose a winner and present an award to a local photographer who highlighted the positiveness of our town centre in the build up to Christmas. The winning photograph had a number of elements in it to help me make it win the prize. First of all it had Selby’s biggest tourist attraction in it. How many of us have actually visited Selby Abbey other than for a wedding or a school trip many years ago? When I was a kid, the roof was accessible on a bank holiday Monday. I remember my father making me climb the million steps up and up to the top. But once we got to the top it was well worth it. The view of Brayton Barff one way, Wistow Lordship to the other. Also in the photo is the market place, again, how many of us use the market? (remember we are famous as the ‘Market’ town of Selby) In future columns I will look at ways we can improve Market day, but try and go buy your fruit and veg from the stool near the post office, or buy a brew and a bacon butty from the van and have a look around. You never know, you might buy something!