Village stores celebrates first year

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ImageBroadwindsor Community Stores celebrates its first birthday next week with a special pancake day party.

The shop in the old telephone exchange in Drimpton Road was created by the community for the community after the shop in the village square closed in 2011.

Since then, it’s gone from strength to strength with volunteers supporting shop manager Sue Williams and shop assistant Jane Sloman.

Last year, the stores won the people’s project category in the Dorset Best Villages Awards.

Fraser Hughes, chairman of Broadwindsor and District Community Enterprise, which runs the stores, said: ‘In twelve months, the new shop has become a real focal point for the community. It has been a tremendous success and that’s down to the support of and active involvement by local people.

‘The shop is always really busy and we’re proud of the range of products and services we offer. It’s been a triumph of local endeavour.’

To mark the first birthday on Saturday 8 March, pancakes will be served from 10am until 12 noon and a special cake provided by Fancy That Cakes of Beaminster will be cut at 11am.

During the week there will be a number of special offers and, on the Saturday, customers spending £20 in the shop will get £2 off their next shop. The voucher will be valid until the end of May 2014.

When the original shop in the Square closed at the end of August 2011, it seemed at first that there might never be another shop in the village. But a team of residents, with tremendous backing from the community, embarked on the road to prove it could be done. 

Unsuccessful attempts were made to buy or rent the original shop, and at one time a temporary shop in the grounds of Comrades Hall (the village hall) was considered. Despite setbacks, the village stayed committed and at the beginning of December 2012, the breakthrough came when planning approval was given to turn the Old Telephone Exchange in Drimpton Road into a shop. 

The finance to open the shop was raised from donations, grants and a share issue, to which over 200 local people subscribed. Chalk & Cheese, an organisation administering funds for rural development on behalf of the EU, also awarded the shop a grant. This funded the shop fittings, stock and initially part of the manager’s salary. The shop committee also received a huge amount of encouragement and advice from outside organisations, particularly the Plunkett Foundation, the acknowledged experts in the Community Shop field.

Earlier this month, it was announced that the old shop in the square was for sale. Because it is registered on West Dorset District Council’s list of assets of community value, community groups have, if they wish to bid extra time to develop a bid and raise money before the owner is able to open the sale to any other interested outside parties.

Mr Hughes said the committee had met to discuss the development.

‘A public meeting will be held on 11 March where the Right to Bid process and the options for the village will be explained. Views will be invited, after which a decision will be taken on the next action.’

A decision has to be conveyed to West Dorset District Council by 18 March.


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