Join Our Keep It Local Campaign

THIS week the Ely Standard launches its Keep It Local Campaign. We want to pledge our support for local businesses and services that are under threat of closure and where we can we will campaign to keep them open. According to latest figures from the Fed

THIS week the Ely Standard launches its Keep It Local Campaign.

We want to pledge our support for local businesses and services that are under threat of closure and where we can we will campaign to keep them open.

According to latest figures from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) hundreds of local shops and businesses are closing each year, and as the credit crunch begins to bite, more will surely join them.

Last week we reported that the city's magistrate's court was under threat of closure as the justice systems seeks to centralise facilities in larger cities and towns. As part of our Keep It Local campaign we have launched an online petition to see that it remains in Ely. Plans for polyclinics are also causing concern. Many suspect that, while there are no immediate plans for a polyclinic in Ely, the proposal to set one up in St Neots, 35 miles away, is just another example of the creeping centralisation that will decimate our local communities within the next few years. If we all stand by and do nothing, local people will not only lose local facilities and services, they may be forced to travel far and wide to doctor's surgeries, hospitals, the post office, shops and even for arts provision. Ely is growing at an alarming rate and we need all of these facilities to cope with the predicted expanding population.

We already have the support of several businesses in Ely, but our campaign will cover the whole of East Cambridgeshire.

South East Cambridgeshire MP Jim Paice has given the campaign his backing.

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"Like the Ely Standard, I passionately believe that local shops and local services are worth fighting for. The slow erosion of local services and the trend towards larger and more distant units is the result of a top-down philosophy of Government, where the quest for modernisation and efficiencies comes at the expense of social value."

According to the FSB:

# 2000 local shops are closing every year.

# 2500 Post Offices nationwide face closure when the Government announces its closure programme on July 6.

# 50 local pubs close each month.

The FSB estimates the by 2010, many villages and local communities will have lost their local shops and services.

Sadly, we report this week that Ely's Babylon Gallery will close on Sunday. This splendid local facility had its funding reduced at the start of the year and was unable to continue with out it.

Arts campaigner, Ted Coney said: "As far as I am concerned, forcing the Babylon Gallery to close is one of the most short-sighted things this council has done."

We have already set up an online petition to save Ely Magistrates Court and an online register for people to support our campaign. We are happy to add more petitions under our Keep It Local umbrella if it becomes appropriate to do so in the future.

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This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

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