Use it or Lose it

By CATHERINE ATKINSON IN the week where another independent shop has closed in Ely, traders, the mayor, and local dignitaries have rallied round to support our Keep it Local campaign. The Emporium gift shop on High Street Passage announced it is shutting

By CATHERINE ATKINSON

IN the week where another independent shop has closed in Ely, traders, the mayor, and local dignitaries have rallied round to support our Keep it Local campaign.

The Emporium gift shop on High Street Passage announced it is shutting up shop and is in the final throes of a closing down sale. It is the third Ely institution to close in a month - gift shop and tea room Steeple Gate is to close at the end of July, Griffin's Antiques is to become an independent-run menswear shop and now the Emporium has announced its closure.

Our campaign has the support of South East Cambridgeshire MP Jim Paice who says he believes passionately that local shops and services are worth fighting for.

"Post offices, the traditional pub, small independent retailers, a GP who knows you by name - these are not relics of a bygone age, but integral to the character of local communities and important to the quality of life of those who live there.

"Last week we heard that Ely Magistrates Court was threatened with closure and the week before that how the birth of polyclinics may lead to the death of local doctor's surgeries. 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.

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"Of course, paying lip service to the importance of local services and independent retailers is not enough. Not only must policymakers understand social value, they must seek to enhance it. Ultimately, however, if we want small shops, post offices and other local services to thrive we must use them. Even this may not be enough to save the community post offices, but it will serve to underline the folly of the Government's latest unwanted reorganisation."

According to David Bent of Bent & Cornwall Butchers in Market Place in Ely it is a simple case of "use it or lose it."

"A relative of mine used to come in to Ely from Chatteris to do her shopping and then complain that there weren't any shops where she lives. I told her it's not surprising if people like her don't use them," he added.

Bent & Cornwell has been a long-standing feature of Ely Market Place and celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier this year.

"People go to the supermarket as a pastime, like it's a Sunday afternoon walk by the river, but I've always said that we are safe until the supermarkets get their act together with meat. We buy from all over, from abroad and from the UK, I'm not ashamed to say that - but you can't go into a supermarket and say 'Where is this from'? and get an exact answer. We aren't called quality meats for nothing - we do select quality - and that is where the supermarkets fall down."

Like Mrs Griffin Singh, Mr Bent plays an active part in the Ely community, as chairman of the Ely Scout Group. A life-long walking fan, he and his son Martin take part in regular treks to raise money for national charities as well as putting in the miles to fund-raise for the Scouts.

Ely mayor Sheila Friend Smith, who announced a distinctly green theme when she was elected mayor last month, told the Ely Standard: "I think Keep it Local is a fantastic idea, and I give it my wholehearted support."

Next week - we see how a Soham businessman is keeping it local by supporting a raft of community projects.

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