30 July 2014

Timpson Trainee Manager required in Shepton Mallet!

Oh! Someone has spotted a job advert for Timpson in Shepton Mallet. How presumptuous!
Before planning permission has been granted!
Is this the way it works?


We need to up the ante now please!
Please write a personal comment on the Mendip District Council's website about this planning application, it really does have to be BLOCKED!

1/Please go to Mendip's website.
2/ Use the simple search.
3/ Put this reference number in: 2014/1326/FUL
4/ Select search.
5/ Choose to make a comment on the application, you will have to either log in or register, in order to do this.
If any of these instructions don't work when you do this, please feedback and tell me how to write it more clearly. Thank you.


28 July 2014

A Guest Blog by Chantal Allison: #Transition Towns #Shepton Mallet


Why it's a 'No' to Timpson in Shepton
By Chantal Allison, from Transition Shepton.


Once again, the turning of the 'clone-town' screw is being felt in Shepton. One major argument for inviting large corporations into our local economy is to create jobs for local people. What doesn't get said is that these jobs are usually for minimum wage and are probably only part-time.

The proposal for a #Timpson, offering shoe repairs, key cutting, watch repair and dry cleaning will, I believe, create 2-3 full-time jobs at best. However,  three local businesses will be directly  affected;  The Shepton Cobbler, Wash Tub and C H Penns, the independent jewellers. That's at least eight jobs that I'm aware of that are at risk. This is not taking into account the impact on other businesses as the result of the reduced footfall in the High Street.

Timpson are a corporate entity in their own right, who  have over 1000 pods throughout the UK in #Tesco and Sainsbury's. This arrangement of course, works in favour of the supermarkets, since it encourages people to shop in their store, with a so-called one-stop, 'convenient' shopping offering.  

The one-stop shopping approach has at least two, perhaps unintended, consequences:

1/ All profits made from local labour is funnelled straight into the corporation's central coffers away from the local economy, thus further impoverishing the town. 

Local businesses do not do this. They promote the circulation of wealth within the local economy.

2/ A sense of community can diminish.

 A thriving High Street often creates and invigorates the local community.

Promoting local businesses is not just a romantic hankering for the good old days. Large corporations such as Tesco could not function without oil. They need it both in their distribution of food and goods and in the running of  their over-lit and over-refrigerated stores. This will become more difficult to sustain and justify as fossil fuels become more scarce and more expensive to extract. The move towards fracking is evidence that easy options for extracting fossil fuels are running out. The corporations will inevitably pass all the necessary price hikes on to you, the consumer. And if they're the only show in town, then they'll charge what they like.

Shepton needs a long term vision which ensures local businesses can thrive, local people can prosper, and the unique character of our High Street is promoted and preserved. The wider benefits of a prosperous and vibrant High Street is an increased sense of community for local people, more visitors who bring wealth into the local economy and perhaps most importantly, increased resilience against the anticipated price hikes in energy and oil.

Come on, Mendip District Council! Show some imagination and innovative thinking! Use your  committment to regenerating the High St by finding long term solutions that benefit the whole community. 

Allowing a Timpson outlet at Tesco in the Townsend Retail Park, is not the way to do it.

***********************************************************
Thank you to Chantal Allison, from Transition Towns, for contributing to the My Coffee Stop Stories Blog.

Transition Shepton is part of the Transition Towns network, which is a nation-wide grass-roots movement  promoting ways of reducing the carbon footprint and encouraging towns to create their own initiatives.

27 July 2014

TESCO, 'Every Little Helps' so go on then, help!

I am just a shopkeeper with two shops and one of the most important things for me in business is ethics and sustainability, in fact, all my business decisions are taken with that in mind, in balance with the economics. I am not one for taking a business decision just because it would be good financially, it has to be sustainable and ethical and I have to be able to sleep at night and to know that I have helped my community and contributed to it in a positive way. Why can't Tesco do that?

It's no secret that Tesco are struggling, especially after the news that their CEO Philip Clarke was ousted after poor financial results. I believe #Tesco is suffering financially because they are too aggressive in upscaling their retail operations, at the expense of local communities and local long established businesses. Surely they must realise that economic times are extremely difficult. In their rapid diversification, they have not chosen the best option, this aggressive way of doing business destroys the economy of the local community, it directly takes the pounds out of the pockets of the very people, that Tesco need to be cash rich, their customers!

Someone needs to make Tesco see logical, economical sense:

In the short term profits rise with aggressive trading but in the long term, agressive trading destroys the health of the very economy it relies upon for it's success.

If I could have a chat with the Chairman of Tesco, not the CEO, as he is leaving and not with the incoming CEO because he'd be new to the job, this is what I would like to say:

'When Tesco decides to really give back to the community, when the relationship is truly symbiotic, instead of stifling, then you will see sustainability in your business.

When you give a percentage of your profits to your community, you will see that the community will choose to support you.

Think of sustainability and success in business, as being like the water cycle, if there was someone at the top siphoning off a large percentage of water for themselves, then the amount of water in the cycle would decrease and they too, would not be able to enjoy the resource of plentiful water, as the water cycle would have been destroyed, it would no longer be sustainable. That is what is happening to our economy, you are hoarding the finances, not sharing and that is why your profits will fall and fall. It is due to greed and faulty thinking that you have got yourselves into this mess. 

At the moment Tesco, I can't afford to support you. If I support you, then that would mean I would be supporting your plans which have already caused devastation across the UK's High Streets and supporting the planning application for a Timpson pod, which you have recently put in. This Timpson pod would offer, shoe, watch and jewellery repairs, as well as key-cutting and dry cleaning, all services which we have firmly established by family businesses, for years on our High Street.

Putting a pod like that in place will decrease footfall in the town center and be a kick in the guts for small businesses on the High Street, my customers. If you take money from my customers, I don't have money to be your customer!

Do you get it now? Do you understand why your business is now failing too? Tesco, you are busy destroying the circular economy, when you could actually be responsible for making it stronger and healthier.

Think about it, giving more to your local community financially, not just with tin collection schemes that customers pay you for and then you donate to a local charity and make yourself look generous when you've added 30% of your own goods on top but by encouraging local businesses to thrive, by really teaming up with them and working together towards mutually beneficial ways of trading. Do that and then you will see Tesco thrive again.

So, Tesco, if you want to know the secret to true economic success, it is sustainability and sharing.'

Seeing as it's not very likely that the Chairman of Tesco will have a chat with me. I appeal to you, to please help me to stop Tesco's planning permission from going through.

Please join my Say No to Timpson at Tesco campaign, by clicking on the link below and signing the petition  it brings up and sharing with your friends too. Thank you.

Say NO to Timpson at Tesco!

You can also log an objection to the planning application, directly to Mendip Council, using this link:

Application Objections

18 July 2014

#Tesco Expansion Plans with Timpson, Threaten The High Street and Not Just in Shepton Mallet!



Tesco have teamed up with Timpson and plan to provide Dry Cleaning, Watch and Jewellery repairs, Engraving, Shoe repairs and Key Cutting Services at their Shepton Mallet store. This is the information that I learnt today, from a fellow trader on the High Street, in Shepton Mallet.

To be honest, the Tesco here in Shepton Mallet is a sore point with the locals, many people actively refuse to step a foot inside the store but many people that live in Shepton Mallet, work in Tesco and visit the High Street too and the site does provide a couple of hours free parking and it doesn't mention you have to be their customer in order to park there. So, as in many situations there are positives and negatives and many mixed feelings.

I decided to Google about the Tesco and Timpson situation and have found out that there are several other places that have had exactly the same kind of planning permission application! Applications have gone in for Shepton Mallet, Bridgend, Cheltenham and Royston and I discovered those after just a five minute search, so there are bound to be more coming our way, across the UK. Looks to me like Tesco is trying to cope with a shrinking market. Yes, people have less money, the economy is down, they too have to find ways to increase their profits.

I however, envisage the High Street going into decline, with the footfall falling even more than it already has done, over the past year that we've been here. It is distressing to hear of shops, beautiful, quirky independent shops having to close, not because they have failed but because it is unsustainable to continue renting on the High Street, so the business runs but online, or from home.

Incredibly, as I was writing this piece, a couple walked into our shop, in Shepton Mallet and needed a refreshing and revitalising cup of tea. As they sat down, we chatted together and I mentioned that I was writing a blog about Tesco and Timpson teaming up. The gentleman, Simon, mentioned that the managing director of Timpson was his God Son. He told me that James Timpson started off, originally, as a shoe retailer but stopped that and moved into repairs, he went on to say that they were good employers and re-trained ex-offenders, so they could have a secure job and re-intergrate into the community. As he mentioned this, the humanity behind the business came into focus, there's a real man with his dreams and visions and his chance to contribute to our society and he's doing it successfully.

Where does that leave us? Where does that leave our much loved High Street, which quite honestly, if it was loved so much, would be used more? What if they were to actually open on the High Street? Maybe we should thank our lucky stars that they are targeting customers for the retail park and they are not plonked on the High Street, I am really not sure what to think. I know the High Street is definitely changing, do we embrace the change, or do we fight for what we know, love and enjoy? If we know we love and enjoy it, then we have to use our money not to 'Support' local businesses but to keep them there and to enjoy them. If you love a local retailer in your High Street, don't keep walking by the shop, thinking that you'll go in there one day. You have to change your habits and make buying things in there a part of your routine. I say that people get the High Street that they deserve, it's the consumer that has the final say in the changing face of market towns. If you shop mindlessly, then you will get an impersonal High Street full of chains.

The way I see it, Shepton Mallet has a wonderful High Street of quirky, independent shops, the Townsend Retail park is an altogether completely different experience, based more on the idea of convenience. The two concepts can live side by side and thrive. I like the idea that I can shop late if I need to at Tesco and pick up a last minute item, or a magazine, they do Sushi and no one else here does, that is very convenient. I've heard it said that when they first applied for planning permission, they said it would be a food only store, I'm not sure if this is the correct information but if no limitations are put on their trading what is the next thing they will do? They are expanding because their market is shrinking. Is their market shrinking because local businesses have closed because Tesco haven't really contributed enough to the regeneration of Shepton Mallet Town? Does that mean that the owners of the small businesses that have closed, can't employ anyone, so unemployment is higher, the town looks more desolate, people have less money, when one trader goes, then there's a knock on effect, for all the traders in town.Traders lose the cross promotion with other businesses and miss out on business from each other in a circular economy that makes sure the money is kept locally. The reason why communities are breaking down and High Streets across the UK look run down is because some landlords keep rents artificially high and because retail parks do NOT contribute to the community enough!

I've been told that there was a promise by Tesco when they first came that they would make sure that the town had maintained hanging baskets of flowers on the High Street, even if there wasn't a promise, why don't they sponsor something like that? The amazing Tesco staff collected over £800 to support Collett Park Festival 2014 but it was Tesco, the company that was asked if they would like to sponsor the festival, amazingly the company itself didn't come up with a bean! Tesco show a lot of support for the community but I'm not sure if it is support from their profits, or whether they profit from the support. Take for instance the Happy Landings Collection point in the store, you buy dog food, or toys, from Tesco and put it into their collection point! I can understand why people feel angry, 'Every Little helps' we just didn't think it meant, every little business and every little contribution from the public and from the staff, helps Tesco to create more profits, diverted away from the community to individuals! Tesco started from a market stall in East London, five years later the name Tesco was formed and the company grew and grew and grew. That entrepreneurial spirit is bound to be admired and respected by most small business owners but when it comes to ethics and morals, it does seem that things have got out of hand.

I feel if Timpson can contribute massively to the economy of the town they are in, if they offer a very basic shoe repair service and recommend the local cobbler for complicated repairs, if they pledge to help and support our town and really give something to the community then they will find their place. At this stage, I personally do not feel that I can support Tesco's application for these new services because of the devastating impact it will have on our Town. I believe that because of this negative impact, that the outlet will not succeed because the local economy will be driven down even further and again the market will shrink and again Tesco will choose to dominate another service and again they will cause the shrinkage in the economy and so on like a spiral, down and down. It is for this reason that I feel I have to oppose the planning application for this outlet.

Please join my Say No to Timpson at Tesco campaign, by clicking on the link below and signing the petition it brings up and sharing with your friends too. Thank you.
Say NO to Timpson at Tesco!

You can also log an objection to the planning application, directly to Mendip Council, using this link:
Application Objections






4 July 2014

Rolf Harris jailed for five years and 9 months.....

To say that I am shocked at this light sentence, does not quite express what I want to say.

As a coffee shop owner, I mix with lots of different people and hear many different stories. In fact, from the time I had a breakdown and was in the mental health unit and then in respite care and from the time I was a performer covering everything from acting, voice-overs, TV appearance, singing on records and radio jingles to dancing for mainly men, in table dancing clubs, I have heard stories of sexual abuse and lives ruined by the acts of a predatory male, or female on an innocent child.

I feel so angry that the sentence is so small for Rolf Harris, he has been convicted of ruining children's lives and there seems to be a grey area about him accessing some child porn, 'by mistake' but several times and his solicitors have apparently checked that the Ukraine website that Rolf Harris was viewing had the age identification documents of each model, proving that they were over the required age! Really?

Many, many times over the pain that a child feels after being sexually abused has been expressed to me, can you imagine a pain so huge, an unexplained dirty feeling, a feeling of disgust with yourself, without wondering why, these intense feelings can lead to self-harm, or even a feeling of wanting to die, to end the pain that you don't understand and cannot find the words to explain to others. People that manage to get through the other side of sexual abuse, often refer to themselves as survivors, which is in fact an extremely appropriate word, considering being sexually abused heightens the risk of someone developing suicidal feelings.

When a child, or an adult speaks out about sexual abuse, there is always, always, always the risk that they will not be believed by the people around them, mainly because abusers seem apt at putting themselves in trustworthy positions. Imagine gathering the courage to speak out about someone that is seemingly a famous, friendly, trust-worthy children's entertainer, who would believe you?

Child abusers seem to me to be extremely devious and place themselves in close proximity to children in general, or abuse children that they are already close to such as family members or friends of their children. It has taken a long time for society to listen to survivors of sexual abuse, to hear what they are saying and to take them seriously. Now, we need the law and the judges to respond appropriately. As someone that has listened to many experiences of child abuse, who has seen the devastation of individuals and their family and friends because of it and as someone that has known people that have self-harmed as a direct result of the abuse and people that have killed themselves because of it, I believe the sentence that has been given to Rolf Harris is absolutely appalling and does not at all match the seriousness of the crimes he has committed. 

These are the convictions and the sentences, however you will notice that because some of the sentences will be served at the same time, the total will only be 5 years and 9 months, instead of the grand total which would be over a decade.

It is possible that Rolf Harris will only serve half the sentence of 5 years and 9 months and then spend the rest of the time in the community.

  • Count 1: Assaulting an autograph-hunter, who was aged seven or eight, in the late 1960s - Nine months
  • Count 2: Assaulting a teenage waitress in the 1970s - Six months
  • Count 3: Assaulting a childhood friend of Harris's daughter between the ages of 13 and 19 - 15 months
  • Count 4: Same victim as count 3 - 15 months
  • Count 5: Same victim as count 3 - 15 months
  • Count 6: Same victim as count 3 - 12 months
  • Count 7: Same victim as count 3 - 15 months
  • Count 8: Same victim as count 3 - 12 months
  • Count 9: Same victim as count 3 - 12 months
  • Count 10: Assaulting Australian woman Tonya Lee, who was 15, in 1986 - Nine months
  • Count 11: Same victim as count 10 - Nine months
  • Count 12: Same victim as count 10 - 12 months
(Above sentences quoted from the BBC website)


3 June 2014

24 hour SHOCK Cash Mob!



I have heard reports that the landlord of Sheels Bookshop in Lancaster Road, has put the rent up by 50%, forcing this Enfield business to relocate to Hatfield instead. We can now see for ourselves that the changing face of the High Street is not just because of changing shopping habits but also the greed of some landlords in keeping rents artificially high in these hard economic times. 

SHOCK Cash Mobs are a small drop in the ocean to help local and independent businesses, just as the BBC Reporter suggested when I was interviewed on TV about this community initiative.

I feel Landlords need to be forced by law, to take responsibility for their community, or even supported by grants and special initiatives to enable them to have filled shop spaces and a fair income in exchange. I don't know what the correct approach would be, as I have never been a landlord, so I need landlords to connect with me and share with me their ideas. After all we are all in this together. Communities are becoming fractured by our broken up High Streets, drastic action and innovation needs to happen now! 

In the meantime, please join me in an online SHOCK Cash Mob for Sheels Bookshop, just over 1 year after the one we did to them in 2013! 

So, for 24 hours from 9am, Tuesday 3rd June to 9am on Wednesday 4th June, pop into Sheels and spend a tenner or more on books! 

Or go online and order.

Or phone up and order.

Please comment to tell me that you are going to do it. Then please tell me when you have actually done it! 

So, who's in? Xxxxxx

24 May 2014

Collett Park, Coffee and Community!


Well, here I am working away on the new website for The Collett Park Festival, that I offered to do for free, as a part of my contribution to the Shepton Mallet community. I did promise, when I resigned, that I would use my social media skills and communication knowledge to help this town regenerate. I've already created a website for Shepton Mallet Shops, which you can look at here. Tonight, all alone in my shop, with the lights on low, I am building a website for Collett Park Festival, which is going to open with a free musical concert at 7pm on Friday June 13th! You can look at the new website here, hope you like it. I am getting so excited about it!

Anyway, the lights are dim and the rain is pouring down and I look up to see a shadowy figure in the doorway who looks almost as if he is going to bed down for the night, he is wearing a mac, has an extremely long beard, like a wizard, a very large black umbrella and a stick and he is looking into a plastic yellow and white carrier bag and rummaging around, hunched over concentrating and rummaging and looking more and more suspicious!

Eventually, I decide that I am carefully going to go up to him and ask him, quietly, 'What are you doing?'. He looks up at me, in a lovely way and shows me some 'Then and Now' postcards of Shepton Mallet. He tells me that he has to visit the places on the postcards as that is what he likes doing. So, even though it's dark and raining, he goes off and matches the pictures in the postcards, to the pictures in real life and I invite him to pop in after he has finished for a hot chocolate and brownie, on the house, even though we are closed, just because.

He's in here now chatting away over his hot chocolate and a brownie, telling me all about his adventures in Glastonbury and Street and how he missed his bus and had to get a lift back to Shepton Mallet in a police car. I asked him if he had absconded from an old people's home but he explained that they actually let him come back quite late and that he would never stay in an old people's home that wouldn't let him stay out late. He asked me how old I thought he was and I guessed 80 years old, then I was really worried I had gone too high but then he said that he's 86! Phew. He's a sprightly thing for that age, walking all around Glastonbury and Street.

I love having a cofffee shop and being in the centre of the community and meeting the people that we do.
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