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.
My name is Christine Thom, I came to live in Garforth 20 years ago; you may have seen me around ?