At last night’s Broadfield Forum there were some concerns raised about the new shop (Tollgate Express) which is to open in Mann Close very soon. Some residents from that estate who are experiencing some nasty-sounding anti-social behaviour from groups of abusive youngsters there are worried that the shop may encourage them to hang around, and may supply alcohol to them.
The Police also expressed some concerns about the shop and said they had made several recommendations regarding its alcohol licence, and our old friend Councillor Quirk had nothing good to say about the shop – predicting gloom and apocalypse as soon as it opens[*].
I hope they are all wrong. A shop in this end of Broadfield should be a valuable local facility, and it is something we really do need. Whether it has any negative effects is partly down to the design of it, but mostly to do with the way it is managed.
I can’t comment on the design. I can remember approving the original planning application, but what has been built bears little relation to that design as a subsequent application went in and got approved.
As for the management, we will not know until it opens. I met the owner a couple of weeks ago and he seemed nice enough. The other businesses he runs in Broadfield are all above board as far as I know and the staff in the one I use most are unfailingly polite. I am taking an optimistic view until and unless events prove otherwise.
In any case, there is a safety net – the local police have been extremely efficient at tackling the sale of alcohol to minors in the last few months with fines and licence suspensions at several shops, including a couple of Tesco Express shops.
There is also some concern about traffic and parking, but I am not convinced this will be a major problem. It is, in the immortal words of the League of Gentlemen a local shop for local people. I can’t see it attracting much passing trade: if someone is already in their car they would be as likely to go that little bit further to the garage or services at Pease Pottage or the garage and shops at the Barton. The point of the shop is to serve houses in the immediate area which are all within walking distance.
There may be some people lazy enough to drive to a shop which is only a couple of hundred metres away but I hope they are in the minority, and with all the congestion and parking shortages everywhere its easy to forget that many people do not have cars and quite a few of them live in the estates by this shop. You can see the mothers walking their children the mile to their school in the morning. Having made that round-trip twice in a day they will welcome the chance to not have a similar walk to the Barton if they suddenly run out of milk in the evening.
[*] Would this be a good time to remind everyone about the Quirk-authored Tory newsletters which have taken every opportunity to list the new shop as a valuable facility, with the implication that it is all down to their efforts that a shop is opening?
I do not mind someone having an opinion one way or another, but saying one thing in newsletters and then saying the exact opposite in front of an audience with a different opinion is just shabby. I didn’t point this out at the meeting – it is supposed to be a positive, friendly, non-partisan meeting, but I still think it is typical Tory opportunism and bandwagon-jumping which typifies the Cameron approach to try and please all the people all the time.
Of course, by saying totally different things at different times Quirk is at least guaranteeing he will be right half the time which is an improvement…