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article imageLocal Welsh community fights back against supermarket dominance

By Mathew Wace Peck     Sep 19, 2010 in Business
Cardigan - Three hundred people in Aberteifi (Cardigan), a town on the west coast of Wales, have achieved the first step in an attempt to rebuild their town centre.
Following the successful raising of finance from within the community and through a bank loan, they have been able to purchase Pwllhai, a prime town-centre site, on which they intend to build a car park for shoppers and retail units that will house small businesses selling local products and services.
An organisation, 4CG, was set up last year to co-ordinate the project, and Shan Williams, a spokesperson for its steering committee, told the Tivy-Side Advertiser that it had been a difficult few months trying to put the bid together.
She said: “It has been a period of very tough negotiation, but we now have the wonderful news that the bid has been accepted [and we] will have a big celebration when we finally get the keys and take possession of our site in a few weeks’ time.”
4CG – which is short for Cymdeithas Cynnal a Cefnogi Cefn Gwlad (the Society to Sustain and Support the Rural Countryside) – is a not-for-profit charity that aims to recreate the vibrancy of Cardigan’s town centre.
Ghost Town Britain
Many small towns and villages in England and Wales have suffered as a result of the onslaught of supermarkets building out-of-town stores over the past 20-odd years, Cardigan being a prime example.
As well as selling more general goods, superstores tend to stock many of the specialist items sold in the smaller shops in town. Inevitably, over time, the smaller businesses are unable to compete with the buying power of the supermarket chains and, one by one, are forced to shut. Unfortunately, once this has happened, the supermarket then ceases stocking most of the specialist items, choosing to stock only the more popular and faster-moving product lines.
According to “Ghost Town Britain”, a report published in 2002 by the New Economics Foundation, in the five years between 1997 and 2002, small general stores closed at around one per day, while specialist stores such as bakers, butchers and fishmongers closed at a rate of fifty per week. If these trends are continued, the Manchester School of Management predicts that by 2050 all independent food stores in the UK might have disappeared.
Cardigan Mayor, Councillor Mair Morris, is happy at the news and confident with 4CG’s project. She told the Tivy-Side, “I am pleased the local bid has been successful and I am sure there will be a plan for the site that will be an asset to the town and will be in keeping with the conservation area.”
Whether the mayor’s confidence is well founded, only time will tell. Cardigan already has three supermarkets – Tesco, Somerfield and Aldi – and, there is evidence of a growing opposition from ordinary shoppers to them, the authority that administers planning applications in the town has recently given the go ahead for a fourth, out-of-town, supermarket – Sainsbury’s – and is also considering an application from Tesco, who want to more than double the size of its store.
More about 4cg, Shan williams, Cardigan, Aberteifi, Tivy-side advertiser
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