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......................
My name is Christine Thom, I came to live in Garforth nearly 22 years ago; you may have seen me around ?