Well what a week it has been and today, as we've all witnessed a real turn around in the UK and a shock to most. Either way, whatever happens I hope, Local businesses don't suffer any more
Anyway, it's the last blog of our fabulous guest blogger today, here's what he has to say;
Awareness, improvement and looking towards the future
From the comments and subsequent conversations I’ve had with friends, residents and businesses of Garforth since my guest blogs and perhaps what has led me to write them in the first place, I think there are a few areas as a community we should be supporting.
Firstly, many think there is a real lack of awareness for what we already have in Garforth. From businesses, to social activities, groups and support networks; being heard in both the on-line and real world is hard work for each of these and likewise for the people looking for it. I’ve not met many people quite as passionate for the ‘local’ movement as Christine and she continues to make a big difference in Garforth as do our Councillors and local MPs alike, but for me, there is a more community-centred effort required to address this awareness gap.
This lack of awareness if I focus on businesses, I suspect, goes a level or two deeper from what I've heard and read;
In my last blog, I asked “what’s your favourite pub in Leeds and why?”. In Garforth we have to my count 8 pubs and social clubs “the Garforth gallon” as I've heard it referred to, and now our first bar, Vogue. Aside from the Gaping Goose (I've yet to try Vogue), I'm not a particular fan of the pubs in Garforth, although that’s not to say others aren't. Yet, and to quote CAMRA “It is often said, and rightly so, that the British pub is a uniquely wonderful institution. The 50,000 or so which remain offer a rich variety of drinking and social environments. The vast majority, though, contribute significantly to the sum of the nation's happiness.”, this captures for me the importance of pubs in our town. The same could be applied in a broader sense to our Main Street and parades of shops peppered across the estates, they all contribute to our local happiness!
From a pub perspective, I more often than not (when I do go out!) find myself going to The Fox in Thorner or to South Milford to the Queen o’t’owd Thatch for a Sunday Roast and pint, which in a way doesn't sit well with me. Yes, I'm still supporting local pubs/businesses but for me it shows that there is something lacking in Garforth with what we already have and I'm certainly not alone in thinking that. The Fox in Thorner was sympathetically refurbished a few years ago, yet still kept the cosy, warm and friendly atmosphere, and is the social hub of the village. Head down on Friday evening say, it has a real great mix of people, no music or gimmicks, great beer and a warm welcome. The Queen o’t’owd Thatch has a clear passion for excellent pub food, great beers and spot on service, so a proper ‘gastropub’, and still has a nice snug for those that fancy a quiet pint. Everything is just so well thought out, even down to special food and drink events! In both cases people flock to them, as destinations.
In Garforth by contrast, a number of pubs for me are either somewhat tired, lack atmosphere and need sympathetically updating; or perhaps don’t know what they want to be so try to be everything to everyone, (so could benefit from community driven focus) or serve microwaved/deep fried pub meals, so don’t stand out for either being a pub or a quality, home made gastropub. It makes me wonder, do people outside Garforth ‘go out’ to Garforth, either for pints with friends or for say a Sunday Roast? I’d be over the moon if we had a brilliant gastropub like Queen o’t’owd Thatch on our doorstep.
If pubs (and businesses in general) in Garforth were more aware of what their customers, or would-be customers like and don’t like in a friendly and constructive manner (e.g. not - your shop is cr*p!), it would give invaluable insight to help ensure they flourish or continue to do so. This wouldn't be just to point out flaws, as ultimately this is someone’s ‘baby’ and life’s work, we should also celebrate the things which we like about them, which helps with spreading the word, which benefits everyone. Pride & Produce are adopting this from the get go, and credit to them for doing so. They’re now open Sunday’s as a result of feedback from our community and this continuous improvement approach just shows in their Trip Advisor reviews and busy shop. They engage both online and offline and as a result know their target audiences. I hope this open approach to change, improvement and engaging the community both on and offline is something which all businesses adopt, it’s unfortunately patchy (at best) from my view at the moment.
Awareness of the community’s needs will also play a significant part in how Garforth evolves as a Town in the future. With Council proposals under consultation across Leeds to address housing needs, it looks like our small town could grow by around 1/3 on land in between Garforth and Kippax (perhaps they should just create a new town called Garpax!!?). I've also heard rumours (which I hope are just that) that Stocks Blocks may also be closing down in Garforth, which would be a real shame for the town and staff employed there. If that happens as with the much larger expansion plans, I hope as a community we can engage and shape any proposals to ensure services and independent businesses are factored into the DNA of that/those estates. Wouldn't it be great if we could have many thriving shopping ‘hubs’ that again compliment what we already have and create a real strong sense of community and pride.
Whether we need to increase awareness of what we have on our doorstep, offer help to improve what we have or engage as a community to shape the future of our town, Garforth is a great place to call home. As with my previous posts, feel free to post if you have any comments on the above, it’s great to hear other views, perhaps some of these topics could become a subject for a future #Garforthhour…
Brings our great annual Garfoth Gala and Car Boot sale - from 11.00am - I will be on the Garforth Christmas stand later in the afternoon, come and say hello and find out about all the plans we have for this year Lights Switch on and we can talk about how nice the weather is too
It's a time to come together as a country and locally....
look after your local economy
Until next week......................
Lots of local gifts available for Dad locally - Dumouchel have some fabulous Chocolate tools; they look so real
Pop in a bag of fresh roasted coffee with your Father's Day treats from Cielo, by doing so you get a deal too - as with Cielo's offer, every bag of coffee bought you get a free drink! #bonus - Open Sunday too
Pride & Produce - You can pick up some great foody items to create a hamper or purchase some gift vouchers - Open Sunday too
If you're Dad is a sweety fiend, buy him a great sweet treat box at Sweetshakes; maybe he'll share them with you!
Freshly Made Garforth is also open on a Sunday morning - buy your Dad a Full English breakfast and bring it home to his bed! #browniepoints
La Bella Vita will also be open from lunchtime on Sunday - take him to eat locally where you know the food and atmosphere is good
There are also lots of offers in a lot of local eateries this weekend too, Holiday Inn, Miller and Carter etc and of course The Gaping Goose has it's Cider Festival on Saturday; if you want to give your Dad a hangover!
Be surprised what's local ..............
A great sadness for West Yorkshire yesterday with the horrific and sad news of a lady who was just doing a great job.
The good people in the world outway the bad, Jo Cox will always be remembered and worshipped; she will always shine through for what she believed was good
And the life for the man who took a mother, a wife, a daughter a friend and a great campaigner will be hated for the rest of his life.
This week we see more new members
The lovely Calmer by Christine, a lovely lady who offers Holistic Therapy and Therapeutic Counseling
Bryan from East Leeds Printing Service, offering a whole range of print from leaflets to business cards, signs, outdoor banners, placemats for restaurants and vehicle graphics
Also Chocolate Beauty Spa who I visited last week will soon be up on the website. How fabulous is this salon, and how big, what they can offer is fabulous, who needs to book a spa day in 4* Hotel, it's here, in Garforth #watchthisspace
As mentioned, this Saturday, 18th June, see's a 1st - Gaping Goose's first Cider Festival - I have been sharing their choice of Cider's on Facebook all week, there's lots to choose from
It takes place on Saturday 18th June 12pm - 6pm, Top Garage will be opened up selling a range of cask, keg and boxed ciders. There will also be a ladies bar selling bottles of cider and Pimms/Prosecco/Wine. There will be a catering van so you wont get hungry, A few bands and a DJ playing throughout the day. Admission is £3 on gate which will be donated to Garforth Lions. No Dogs and no under 13's please.
Some more dates for your Diary - next Sunday we see the annual Garforth Gala - what are you going dressed up as? - Olympic / Carnival theme this year
#WOTS (Word on the Street)
Check out this great video https://www.facebook.com/GarforthDeli/videos/1741562239391471/
You can also see the event on the 9th July at St Mary's Church, if you want some tickets; please contact Jane Harrison #thegoodofgarforth
I have sent an email to our local Councillors this week asking for their support on Miami, not necessarily Lidl as we know this is more or less in the bag! But the two retail units that come in their plans. I have mentioned before them before as they really concern me. We need the councillors support in order we don’t detract any more footfall from Main Street.
Lidl’s ideas are to put a cheap store in at least one of the retail units, which to me, would be the concern; they sell everything giving a reason for people not to bother with our high street! We ALL need to think of the impact it would have, even a novelty period of interest would do damage to Main Street. With the likes of The Lady Cares going by Christmas, even in this climate some of our traders are struggling - let's hope we get the right support when their proposals are in
BE KIND, it doesn't take much to even just smile at someone you pass
Until next week when our great, Guest Blogger Phil will be back asking you more ............
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY and all the links for you to look through
Our lovely Guest Blogger, Phil Barrett is back and asking for your thoughts....
There were a few interesting comments or themes from my first blog where, amongst other things, I asked ‘what would people like to see set up in Garforth?’.
Do residents of Garforth and the surrounding villages
· know what Garforth has to offer already?
· like what is already there?
· have a voice or say in what goes on?
As Rebecca from Dumouchel mentioned, I am a proud regular of their excellent (and internationally well-respected) patisserie. I made a conscious decision or commitment to support local businesses where I can, so no longer buying supermarket processed ‘bread’ was a logical place to start. It’s brilliant that we have such a special bakery/patisserie on our doorsteps, and I wonder how many people haven’t come across it yet (they’re in for a treat when they do).
The wide array of independent shops in Garforth is promising and there is huge potential for the town by attracting independent businesses to the area. For those that have seen Chapel Allerton and more recently Meanwood transform themselves into thriving local economies, I want this, if not better, for Garforth. Now Meanwood had the ‘Waitrose effect’ and whilst I’m sure lots of people don’t like nor wish to shop at Waitrose, it is like putting a huge set of floodlights around the town and saying move and invest here, and boy has it worked. There are restaurants, nice bars, pubs and shops (all independent) and 10 years ago, I don’t think you’d hear a soul saying should we go out for an evening in Meanwood, but that’s exactly what’s happening now.
Susan Taylor raised a very valid point in her comment about having a Wetherspoons potentially opening in Garforth. As a resident of Garforth I think this is a really bad idea and a worrying sign for our town. Cheap alcohol does, in this country go hand in hand with drinking to excess and attracting trouble. Along with alcohol, Wetherspoons also does coffee and food - all stacked up high and sold cheap, undercutting and damaging independent local businesses where there is perhaps a greater emphasis on quality. If Meanwood had ‘the Waitrose effect’, what ‘effect’ will Lidl and/or Wetherspoons have on Garforth?
I think that location on Main Street is prime, and if a great independent bar/ food business set up selling quality products, perhaps at a slight premium, it would complement Main Street rather than aggressively compete. Strong Leeds independents such as North Bar and Friends of Ham are spotting this same trend that casual out of city drinking and eating has potential. So rather than accepting whatever company takes out the lease, shouldn’t we as a community be working with our local councillors and become more proactive in identifying what we want across all business sectors? We’ve already seen multinationals take a hold with supermarkets and we’ve got a Subway and potentially a Wetherspoons, is this really how we want things to be in Garforth? What can we do to make Garforth more of a ‘destination’ and an even better place to live?
Prime locations on Main Street, perhaps unsurprisingly, mean high rents. This must undoubtedly stop several small enterprises setting up here especially when you add business rates into the mix (e.g. when combined, this can be in excess of £3k per month). I think that if we as a community had a vision for Garforth on how we’d like it to be in 10 years say and a plan to get there, we could, with the support of our councillors look to get discounted rates. Also if the community had a plan, we should be pushing landlords for perhaps more flexible leases, to ease businesses in and make that first leap perhaps not as daunting. Ultimately if the businesses that we want, come to Garforth, they’ll succeed, so it’s a smaller risk for the landlords and businesses alike.
Feel free to post if you have any comments on the above, it’s great to hear other views and if you’d like some extra ‘homework’ get your thinking caps on, as I ask “what’s your favourite pub in Leeds and why?”
Until Next week....
Do it local in June.
So, it's a repeat day?
Great it gives me an excuse to say this
SHOP LOCAL, SHOP LOCAL, SHOP LOCAL, SHOP LOCAL !
I hope you have enjoyed the half term holidays for those who have children or those who have found getting to work easier with less traffic?
I have been away this week, to the sunny North West, I even got a tan! –sorry, I know, the weather in Garforth hasn’t been brilliant, but I did try and bring some sun back; which lasted all of Thursday evening.
Whilst I was away, I visited 2 other towns with a great high street and other local businesses; a bit like Garforth. I take note of little things that others may not and I had some wonderful conversations with the local traders too. They too, like Garforth business owners, have concerns and worries about their future and how long it will last, especially as one town’s Borough council has decided to hike up the charges on their public parking spaces, £2 for under 4 hours and £7 over 4 hours, obviously, people in the area won’t pay, so they are not using the high street. This is where the residents and the traders need to come together and appeal against the ridiculous!
We are very lucky in Garforth to have free parking and the only issue at times is perhaps waiting for a space or waiting on Main Street to get through when times are busy, I’d rather have this than paying every time I came in; imagine it, I’d be skint!
There are no plans for Garforth parking areas to ever be a chargeable, however to alleviate a few of the issues, I have sent a request to traders today asking, where possible if deliveries can be made NOT on Main Street, as this is causing a lot of the passing issues.
I digress – Basically if the community stops coming into towns, there will be no towns
You can spend as little as 20 minutes a week visiting a shop(s) or making an appointment, or drinking a coffee, please do it – doing little things helps it, BIG TIME - you'll also feel happier because you've shopped local #honest
I'm looking forward to my meetings with the new ladies of Chocolate Spa beauty and Calmer by Christine next week – 2 new companies in Garforth - I’m learning a lot about beauty, holistic remedies and myself!
Cielo is off to Bramley Fair tomorrow, a first for them,. Going solo, selling their fab coffee. Have you entered their competition yet? https://www.facebook.com/Cielouk/?fref=ts
Cielo also joined Medela, The Big Breastfeeding Cafe, they held one on the 20th May and will hold more in the future - great for mummies
Pride & Produce will be opening Sundays from 12th June – when the public shouted, they listened – another great Sunday opening from another great independent
17th June will see Augustus Court, Meridian Care, Care Home Open Day in conjunction with Marie Curie, West Yorkshire – a great Tea Party, if you haven’t been in yet, go and take a look - it’s fabulous, but you have to see it for yourself, it really does have the WOW factor.
Keep your eye out on TMD website and social media sites for exciting news from Mr B and Mrs B – Mr B’s Beard Care and Boutique Beauty, great things coming up next month, and unique to Garforth
Today I went to Lotherton Hall’s Fairy Tale trail and had lots of fun in the sun; yes, it came out. You still have the weekend to go and enjoy the fun and don’t forget to pay the fairies a visit by the rock garden #socute
Vogue Bar opened day Last weekend - I have been away, so haven’t yet paid a visit – Any comments or feedback, did you go in and try one of their beers on offer? I’m getting mixed reviews, but mostly good – give them time, it’s very normal for the first few weeks to have teething problems – Leave me a comment if you had a good time – share it - Good Luck to Robert, James and Ben
Great to see Martin House Open yesterday – looks like a nice charity shop
With regards to charity shops I have been encouraging St Gemma’s to have a Vintage section in their branch as I think this will give a fun and unique product element to their shop and hopefully, it will also give you more of a reason to pay a visit
After last night’s Christmas Committee Meeting – Christmas is looking pretty marvellous for lights switch on! I know, I know it’s only June, but we’ve been planning since January! Follow to see what’s going on, on the Facebook or Twitter Page
SLP looking to expand a little with a detached classroom block - planning in consideration
Lidl - still in planning consideration. I have seen a marked area on where their proposed road changes will be! Have a look on the paved area, next time you come out of Tesco’s and head up to Toll Bar Garage!
New BLUE fencing gone up on the Green Lane site for houses – let’s hope it stays blue and not full of graffiti again! - Planning still in consideration
A bit of a shorter blog this week, I’ve been out of Garforth most of the week; so that’s why it’s been dull! ; )
I hit a big number this month – on the website that is, 14,500 hits in May – Fabulous news, it means you’re using it and hopefully, finding it helpful ?
Looking forward to another Guest blog next week – lots of great comments from our first one
It takes you to start the trend #shoplocal and then brag about it
Until next week....
Please leave any comments
My name is Christine Thom, I came to live in Garforth 18 years ago; you may have seen me around ?