onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003

 

Archive for Retail

Essex Consults On How Good Is Your Local Chemist

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Essex County Council is holding a public consultation on local pharmaceutical services. The consultation will run until 30th April.
Members of the public are asked to complete a short questionnaire on the services provided by pharmacies, dispensing doctors and internet pharmacies in the Essex area. The results of the survey will help the County Council and the Essex Health and Wellbeing Board to understand how local people use the services, how they rate their experiences and what services they would like to see in the future.
The questionnaire is completely confidential and does not require any personal identifying information.

The results of the survey will be used to help produce a Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment for Essex determining what, if any, services will be required to meet local needs. The report will be available to the public from early 2015.

Councillor Ann Naylor, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Public Health & Wellbeing, said: “We would really encourage members of the public to tell us about their experiences of services from chemist’s shop. It will only take a few minutes to complete, so please take advantage of this opportunity to help shape the services of the future.”

The survey is live at http://www.essexinsight.org.uk/ViewPage1.aspx?C=Resource&ResourceID=919

For more information or to request a paper copy/alternative format call 01245 430 430 or email contact@essex.gov.uk

BREAKING NEWS: Chris Stanley Organises Petition And Formal Objection To Ending Free Saturday Afternoon Parking

The District Council has had a public notice up about the car parking increases and the ending of free Saturday afternoon car parking in council car parks.. It said

 If you wish to object to this proposed Order you should state your reasons by email (Legal@Rochford.gov.uk) or in writing to Legal Services by 9th April 2014.

The only legal grounds people on which people could object was on the effect on the public highway – that is, a possible increase in on-street parking and congestion.

stanley petition 2

Chris Stanley has done just that. With the help of a friend he organised a non-party-political petition in Rayleigh High Street, obtained 500 names pretty easily, and submitted the petition to the council. It says:

We hereby object to item 5 of the above proposal: ‘to introduce parking charges in all car parks on Saturday afternoons, increasing the operational hours from 7 am to 1 pm
to 7am to 7pm’. We note that the purpose of local authority providing parking spaces both off street and on roads is to prevent congestion of traffic. However we consider that this change in the regulation is entirely motivated by financial gain and is a form of taxation of local residents . Furthermore we consider that the primary aim of the provision of car parks to prevent congestion will be frustrated by the change as additional on-street parking will occur in roads close to the town centre, many of which do not have a Saturday afternoon parking ban. For the above reasons we object and call upon the Council not to impose item 5 of their Notice of Proposals dated 19th March 2014.

Chris Stanley says:

“I was delighted at the response of shoppers in Rayleigh High Street. We got over 500 hundred signatures in a few hours. People were actually queuing to put their names to the petition! We are keeping the petition non-political because this price hike seems to offend everyone, we all want to see our town centre continue to prosper but realise that it cannot be taken for granted. I think people will reluctantly accept a parking increase but for the normal charge times, we are are strongly against the extra hours being charged. At present Saturday afternoon is a relaxed time when people can shop, dine or socialise without rushing back for parking tickets. Is the Council so mean spirited that they cannot understand why people value this small exemption? We took the petition to the Council and are now awaiting their response.”

chris stanley petition 3

A Telephone Survey

Rayleigh High Street

Rayleigh High Street

 

Chris Black writes:“Rochford District Council have arranged a telephone survey to ask residents about their shopping habits, and as it happens I was phoned today! When I was asked what would make me shop in Rayleigh more I replied free parking on Saturday afternoons,  and a wider range of shops. (We do shop in Rayleigh quite a lot anyway)”.

Council Has ” little understanding of retail dynamics ” – And That’s Official.

m&co

Once upon a time, the Conservatives were supposedly pro-business and pro-car.
And the Greens were supposedly charming but not very good with money and anti-car.

Well, in Rochford we have to do things differently.
So the leader of the Green party, Michael Hoy, is an accountant who suggested how the district council could save money,but was ignored. And he voted in favour of keeping free car parking on Saturday afternoons.
And of course it was the Conservative leadership that ended free parking on Saturday afternoons, making themselves look anti-business, anti-car and not very good with money.

The latest twist is that councillors have just had letters from Mr Iain McGeoch, OBE, chairman of M&Co , also known as Mackays Stores Ltd

Here’s part of the letter:

“Dear Councillor,

INTRODUCTION OF SATURDAY AFTERNOON PARKING CHARGES IN RAYLEIGH

I own and run M&Co and our store has been one of the larger retail stores in Rayleigh for many years.

Your decision to introduce parking charges on Saturday afternoon in Rayleigh will be detrimental to the long term prosperity of the town’s shopping , and shows little understanding of retail dynamics in 2014……..

…..Your plan to charge for parking after 1pm will definitely deter customers from returning to shop in Rayleigh later on Saturdays, resulting in a very significant reduction in spending in the town on Saturday afternoons. If customers have already paid for parking in another shopping location they will not want to spend more on new parking charges in Rayleigh. Customers react to changes like this and shopping patterns will change and would not easily revert if the charges were stopped sometime after they were introduced. If stores take less money, then as a consequence less staff will be employed. Over time you will see a decline in the peripheral shopping and more empty shops…..
I urge you very strongly not to damage Rayleigh’s Saturday afternoon shopping potential by this damaging action and properly support the rate paying stores in Rayleigh.

Yours Faithfully

Iain McGeoch OBE

Chairman M&Co”

 

There is still time for the Tory leadership to see sense and keep free Saturday afternoon parking. There may be problems with the council’s constitution in officially reversing this foolish decision, but there are ways around this. Just announce that as a special spring and summer promotion, free parking on Saturday afternoons will be granted for the next 26 weeks . (in the same way that we have free parking on Saturdays before Christmas). That would give us time to constitutionally reverse this.

By the way, you probably haven’t heard of Mr Iain McGeoch before. Which isn’t surprising – according to this article in Retail Week he keeps a very low profile. But he is a very successful businessman with a good understanding of High Streets. This emphasises just how bloomin’ awful the District Council has been to prompt a letter like this. Retail Week wrote:

The Scottish fashion tycoon typically keeps his profile lower than the Dead Sea. Although a regular at some industry functions, he is able to walk into a room, down the high street or into one of his shops without drawing the curious stares that would greet some of his more showy peers.

But McGeoch is one of the richest men in retail. Value fashion retailer M&Co, which is family owned and run by him, has made him a Sunday Times Rich List fixture. He and his brother Lennie – now no longer involved in M&Co – are valued at £107m.

McGeoch’s avoidance of publicity – there are no photographs of him available and he did not want to be interviewed – reflects a modest and understated style. While engaging and good company in private, he has not allowed himself to be built up as a personality in the industry.

He put plenty of elbow grease into building up M&Co, which was originally a pawnbroker founded in 1834. He jokes that at one time he knew every AA man between Birmingham and Glasgow, such was the time that he spent on the road scouting new locations. His travels took him in the main to market towns and secondary locations overlooked by, or not of interest to, bigger retailers such as the supermarkets that have since carved out positions in value fashion.

So thank you, Mr McGeoch, for taking the trouble to write a letter that confirms what Lib Dems, Greens, Rochford Residents and rebel Conservatives have thought – you can say it with more authority than we can.

Italian Food Market

Most of us connected with onlineFOCUS are fond of Italian cooking. So we are looking forward to the Italian Food Market that Rayleigh Town Council are bringing to the High Street on March 1st!

italian market poster

And as a taster, here’s some some shots of Italian food and an Italian Food Market in Bologna (taken on holiday by Chris Black a couple of years ago)

Thats my starter... DSCF0446

Cafe Life DSCF0372In a food market

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The Rayleigh Area Action Plan

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Another matter approved at the last Full District Council was the Rayleigh Area Action Plan. This now goes out to final public consultation but only on “soundness” and “legal compliance”.

This is another plan that has been prepared over several years. At the last round of discussions, the idea of a multi-storey car park on Websters Way car park was thrown out (and most people were happy about that).

So the plan isn’t likely to cause as much controversy as its counterpart in Hockley.

You can download it and the meeting report and the draft plan from this page. ( You need to then click on “Item 14 Appendix 1″).

But here are the essentials (you can click on the images to enlarge them)

 

 

Primary and Secondary Shopping Areas

 

rayaaplan6

The plan defines a “primary shopping area” in the High Street from the junction with Crown Hill until just past the junction with Bellingham Lane. The rest of the town centre is defined as “secondary shopping area”. It also  identifies two parts of the actual highway in the High Street as being suitable for “an improved public realm” (that’s the areas in green stripes).

 

 

Policies for these Shopping Areas

 

rayaaplan3

It also has policies for the primary and secondary shopping areas. The aim is basically to keep the “primary shopping area” as a strong retail area, with leisure, cultural and community uses allowed elsewhere in the town centre. There are also detailed policies in the document for 5 different parts of the town centre.

 

 

Making It More Attractive For Pedestrians

 

rayaaplan4

And what about those “improved public realm” areas? – The idea is to make the areas more attractive to shoppers. Here’s how the High Street would look, facing north near the Library.

 

But these schemes are expensive. So maybe they won’t ever happen….

rayaaplan5

These would be expensive, and the funding would have to come from developers or Essex County Council. Just look at the costs ! The District Council certainly can’t afford to do any of them.  At the council meeting Chris Black was one of the few councillors to speak, saying  he could think of better ways of spending , say , half a million pounds, and in any case would prefer any funding to come from the European Union rather than the County Council. We also have to consider any impact this would have on road congestion.

 

Jack’s Whirlwind Has Her Fronting A New Sainsbury’s Advert…

Good luck to Southend Blogger Jack Monroe, who will be fronting one of Sainsbury’s TV adverts next month as part of their “Love Your Roast” campaign.

Jack writes on her blog:


I hope my readers are as happy for me as I am. I’m not quite on Jamie Oliver’s salary (in fact I don’t think I’m on 1% of it!!) but I’m happy to be working with the supermarket that I shop at – rather than any of the others that made ridiculous offers to try to coax me away from the orange and white packaged Basics range.
_
I’m not going to change – I call a spade a spade, a battery chicken a battery chicken, and a bargain a bargain, so I hope you all stay with me on the next stage of a fabulously exciting journey.
_
And re the money side of things, I am donating part of my fee/salary/whatever you call it to food projects both at home and in Africa – but more on that later! Keen Twitter followers will know I’ve spent the last week having all sorts of jabs for an upcoming trip with Oxfam, and this is why. Because I don’t want to “take the money and run”. It’s a hard thing to try to explain but having lived for so long with so little, I don’t want to just skip off into the sunset with all of my earnings – I don’t know what happens next or how long this is all going to last, so while I can, I want to take the opportunity to make sure that I am not the only person to benefit from my ‘success’ (I don’t really know what else to call it). I think I’ll be in a position to make a difference, no matter how small, and I want to give it a go.
_
In a years time this whirlwind might all be over, and I want to be able to look back and know that I’ve done something worthwhile, somewhere, and that it was all worth it in some strange karmic way.

>

Merry Xmas Jack.

Today Is Small Business Saturday !

small business saturday

Today is Small Business Saturday. Their website explains that:


Small Business Saturday is all about encouraging everyone in the UK to support small businesses, both on the day and beyond.

This year will see the first Small Business Saturday in the UK, held on one of the busiest shopping days of the year – the first Saturday in December.

We want all kinds of small businesses to get involved, so know that whether you are a family business, local shop, online business, wholesaler or small manufacturer, Small Business Saturday is supporting you!

One way that the District Council tries to support local trade is through the ShopAtMyLocal scheme. It’s worth having a look at their webpage whether you are a business or a customer:

small business saturday2

So today for example, Courts have free mini Christmas trees. We also see on the FeatheringYourNest Facebook Page that they are taking part:

It is a day to shop at your local independent shops and show your support for the diversity and uniqueness of our town. To help us celebrate and say thanks for supporting us this year, have 10% off EVERYTHING!!!
we are giving away free gingerbread cup cakes with every purchase. Mulled wine, sweets, Face painting by Molly and a few songs by Carly Ann Hipson.

It’s a fact though, that small shops can rarely compete with the big stores and internet giants on price. Though they do tend to pay their share in taxes, something that Amazon isn’t famous for - in fact the Guardian reported that on sales of 7 Billion Pounds, Amazon paid no UK Corporation Tax. And other news stories , such as some supermarkets selling frozen Brazilian chickens that are nearly one-fifth water don’t show the big stores in a good light either.

Rochford Art Trail Wins An Award

Very nice to see Rochford’s  Arts  Trail coming first in the East of England  ”Towns Alive” awards.

Also good to see that Rayleigh’s market got a ‘commended’ rating.

Estate Agent Wants To Move Into Toys N’ Tuck

There’s a planning application to allow the change of use of the former Toys N’ Tuck Shop in Rayleigh High street into an estate agent. Officers are recommending approval, and unless any councillor calls it in, it will be approved.

You can download the officers report by clicking
here.

Key factors:

- the council has a policy of at least 50 percent retail frontage along here, and the figure is already down to 42 percent
- but the government is now allowing changes of use like this for up to 2 years without planning permission
- also it would create 5 jobs

Any views?

Estate Agent Application

There’s a new planning application in with the District Council to convert the shop at no. 25 Rayleigh High Street into an Estate Agent.

This building has been the home of ‘Toys N’ Tuck’.

The application reference is 13/00575/COU and you can search for it here.

March Hares & Monkeys Uncles

It’s always good to see an interesting new shop opening up….”March Hares and Monkeys Uncles” is the name of a fairly new little shop tucked away at 4 North Street Rochford. A bit of a hidden gem that sits in its surroundings beautifully.

It’s run by Kerry Baker Davis and Christine Wills. They sell original hand-painted furniture, their own ceramics and textiles, and quite a bit more. Many of the items they produce themselves, and they will take on commisioned work. If you are looking for unique arts-and-crafts gifts, not a mass-produced item made thousands of miles away, its well worth a visit. They say “We are trying to keep prices reasonable!”

The Rochford Life website has a selection of photos and more information.

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The Core Strategy

This is the official master document for planning policy in our district! To download it, click here click here. (2.5mb)

Planning Applications…

If you want information on a particular planning application, you can find it on the District Council website here.

If you want to know what new planning applications have been submitted this week, click here.

Reporting A Problem

If you want to report a problem, you can email Lib Dems councillors by clicking here.
There's also an independent website called FixMyStreet. It's very good for reporting minor street problems like holes in the road, grafitti or failed streetlights. You can find FixMyStreet here.

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The County Council admitted in July that over 200 roads in our district need repairing! They say they will fix them by May 2013. Click here to see the list.

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“Rayleigh was the birthplace of Britain’s first surviving quintuplets, but that’s just one of its many claims to fame”

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