Use our shops.... or.... lose them!
Barnes is a great place to live, in the curve of the River, five miles from the heart of London, with easy access by public transport to the West End and the City; we have Richmond Park, Kew Gardens, the Wetland Centre, Barnes Green and Common and the Towpath giving us more green space than almost any other part of London enjoys; we have our Churches, our schools, and a strong sense of community.
However, one of the great benefits that we have long enjoyed and, for too long, tended to take for granted, is the presence of a wide range of traders - shops, restaurants and other service-providers, in and around Castelnau, Church Road, Station Road, the High Street and White Hart Lane. These provide us with a huge range of merchandise and other essential services. Without these, mostly small owner-driven, businesses we would all spend more time travelling away from Barnes to shop, and Barnes itself would lose much of its sense of community and risk becoming instead a mere dormitory.
The BCA and many of the inhabitants in Barnes appreciate the diversity, range and choice offered by our local shops, many of them independent traders who have served the area for years. We have all seen how the mix of businesses has changed and will continue to change: this process is driven in large part by consumer choice but also by many other local and commercial factors.
Traders in Barnes face all the challenges of small businesses everywhere. Apart from the overall state of trade, businesses in Barnes have to contend with high rents, increases in business rates and utilities, petty crime, competitive pressures from supermarkets and restrictions on parking. If Barnes and its traders are to continue to prosper, a more collaborative approach is needed, in which traders, the BCA (and other community organisations), Richmond Council and residents recognise that sustaining a vibrant community takes effort from us all.
For the retailers this means not just addressing issues with a common approach, but also thinking about such things as longer opening hours, more active engagement with other community activities, and joint promotional effort both within Barnes and more widely. The BCA spearheaded this effort by appointing a Town Centre Manager for Barnes, funded jointly by it and Richmond Council, in January 2009.
Traders also need support from the residents of Barnes. If our shops and businesses are to survive and prosper, local support is absolutely vital, which is where you come in. If you want to continue to benefit from the convenience of having these quality providers on your doorstep, the message is crystal clear: whenever you need to shop –
Think Local First!