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Fairfield Community Shop

If you have any suggestions, whether that be what you would like the shop to offer or a suggested location for the shop, email shop@fvca.org.uk



Community Shop Update 11th June 2022

Site Assessment

At the public meeting that was held on 2nd April and subsequently through messages on social media and articles in the Community Association newsletter & church magazine, residents have been asked:

  1. For their suggestions for possible locations for a community shop,
  2. If anyone has any land that could be used for a community shop.

16 site locations have been suggested:

  • School
  • Fairfield Recreation Ground – adjacent to car park, behind dwellings
  • Pub Car Park – Swan
  • Pub Car Park – Nailers Arms
  • Pub Car Park – The Gate
  • Fairfield Village Hall Barton room
  • Fairfield Village Hall Car Park
  • Bournheath Community Centre Car Park/Field
  • Out of the Box Thinking – Convert Village Hall into a shop and build a new community centre on the Recreation Ground
  • Existing Post Office unit
  • Unit alongside Club House
  • Mobile Van – One location
  • Mobile Van – Multi locations
  • Fairfield Court
  • Wildmoor Chapel
  • St. Mark’s Church

Firstly, we would like to thank everyone for their suggestions.

On 11th June the Working Group met and undertook a Basic RAG (Red, Amber, Green) Site Assessment to identify locations that may have a greater degree of viability, accommodating the needs of a shop and having minimal impact on existing site users & neighbours.

For a copy of the assessment form CLICK HERE

Each criterion was scored Red, Amber or Green:

  • Red:   Lots of issues
  • Amber:  Some issues
  • Green: Hardly any issues

From the initial list of 16 sites, the pubs and mobile van suggestions were grouped, due to commonality, reducing the list to 13 assessments, the scores for each assessed location are:

 GreenAmberRed
Bournheath Community Centre Car Park/Field623
Existing Post Office unit513
Fairfield Court1010
Fairfield Recreation Ground – adjacent to car park, behind dwellings920
Fairfield Village Hall Barton room416
Fairfield Village Hall Car Park335
Mobile Van – Multi locations/One location443
Out of the Box Thinking – Convert Village Hall into a shop and build a new community centre on the Recreation Ground911
Pub Car Park – Swan, Nailers Arms, The Gate506
School137
St. Mark’s Church218
Unit alongside Club House911
Wildmoor Chapel362

The four sites with the most scores are:

1.            Fairfield Court

2.            Fairfield Recreation Ground – adjacent to car park, behind dwellings

3.            Out of the Box Thinking – Convert Village Hall into a shop and build a new community centre on the Recreation Ground

4.            Unit alongside Club House

The next stage is to speak to the landowners to see if in-principle they would be open to considering usage of their land for the purpose of a community venture.  After discussion with the landowner(s), it may turn out not be possible to use a proposed site as it may already be in use or there may be restrictions, e.g. from local authority. Should an in-principle agreement be given, this is not binding on the landowner, e.g. it may later turn out that there may be restrictions, such as a covenant. 

If identified land is available and landowners are open to their land being considered, we will undertake a more detailed site assessment that will consider other factors, such as infrastructure, costings, etc. There will also be further engagement with residents to seek views.

If the shortlisted sites cannot be used, we may consider the next highest scored site, however, those with low scores may not be considered further due to their lack of viability and/or negative impact on other site users/residents.

If you have any site suggestions that have not yet been considered or a parcel of land that we could use, email shop@fvca.org.uk

Should we be in a position where there is no suitable site that is available, we will be unable to progress the project.

Legal Structure

The Working Group has been taking advice from the Plunkett Foundation to identify the best legal structure for a Community Shop, we are currently considering becoming a Community Benefit Society that gives the most flexibility (allowing us to both issue shares and become a charity).

Committee

In due course, a constituted committee will need to be formed, to take forward recommendations provided by the Plunkett Foundation and the preliminary work of the Working Group.


Community Shop Update 23rd April 2022 – Working Group

In response to our callout for people to join the working group some volunteers have stepped forward, the group consists of:

  • Conrad Palmer
  • Mary Gibbs
  • Sue Wilkes
  • Karen May
  • Kay Stone
  • Robert Garvin
  • Louisa Wood Jeppesen

If you have a skill that can help us deliver a shop for the community, come onboard and join the team.


Have you the skills for our Working Group?

We need you. Email: shop@fvca.org.uk


Community Shop Update 3rd April 2022

A working group formed in early November 2021 in response to local concerns about the loss of the Post Office in Fairfield (this month) and the previous loss of a shop in the village.

Working group members:

Parish Cllr Mary Gibbs

District Cllr Karen May

FVCA Chair Conrad Palmer

Parish Cllr Sue Wilkes

At an initial meeting (13th December 2021), the group considered ensuring that this topic was addressed in the upcoming village questionnaire to residents. Potential investigations concentrated on approaching the owners of the original Post Office site to discuss the possible reinstatement, as it seems the reason for the Post Office closure was down to the resignation of the postmistress rather than a desire by the Post Office to close the facility. It was agreed that District Councillor Karen May and Fairfield Village Community Association Chair (FVCA), Conrad Palmer would meet with the current Post Office premises owners to discuss the possibility of reinstating this. This meeting proved unsuccessful as the current owners do not want the security risked a Post Office below their living accommodation.

A further meeting of the working group was held on Saturday 26th February 2022 at which FVCA Chair discussed the Plunkett Foundation and how this could help to guide progress. Further discussion about positioning a community shop within the space where the Post Office was, resulted in a suggested £500 per month rental for the space. Meanwhile the working group tried to think of alternative sites for the Post Office and shop. A lot of research was done by FVCA Chair, Conrad Palmer into the Plunkett Foundation and what they could offer as support and also Conrad had arranged a visit to the two community shops for 10th March.

The Plunkett Foundation has been identified as an organisation which could support the community in investigating the appetite for and development of a community Post Office and shop.  The Plunkett Foundation offer advice, information and support on all aspects of the process of setting up community shops. Steve Denne is a Plunkett Advisor and Chair of the Crowle Community shop committee.

On 10th March the working group visited two community shops, one of which also has a Post Office. Both enterprises have been supported through the process by the Plunkett Foundation.

The purpose of the visit was to speak with the team at each community shop and to ask questions about how the particular shop was set up, financed and developed and to observe how the shops functioned and what attracted and retained customers.

Steve Denne, Chair of the committee for Crowle community shop spoke at length to the working group about the need to establish, via a public meeting, the appetite within the community, for taking the idea forward as the idea will only progress if there is sufficient will and commitment to make it work. This, he advised, is our first task – to test appetite via the public meeting. He also advised that we should consider subscribing with the Plunkett foundation as soon as possible as this organisation is able to guide and advise us through the whole process. Membership would cost £200 per year and after listening to the experiences of setting up both shops, it is clearly a lengthy process and unlikely to be achieved within a year.

Funding was also discussed and both teams at Crowle and Peopleton have used a share selling scheme to support funding for their shops plus additional grants and fundraising initiatives.

There are differences to be observed in terms of location within the villages, background and offering but there are clear similarities and notable benefits for the communities.

A local shop and Post Office presence is clearly beneficial to the community but there are many “unseen” benefits which were also discussed. For local people it offers opportunities to socialise as well as shop. Both shops also stock a range of locally sourced produce from milk, bread and cheese to beers and cider. 

Both community shops have a café which offer further opportunities for meetings and social contact, particularly for older residents. One runs a weekly coffee morning (Peopleton).

In addition to offering locally produced goods, a range of standard convenience store goods are available such as cleaning products, toiletries, store cupboard basics and tinned goods amongst other things.

Other benefits include offering a retail outlet to small local businesses eg. Peopleton Press (cider), cheese and cake suppliers and local butcher for example.

Volunteers would be needed. Steve Denne explained, as did Barney (Crowle management committee) and Jenny (sub postmistress at Crowle), the vital role of volunteers for the venture to succeed. Both stores rely heavily on volunteers, and each have in the region of 30 – 40 volunteers in a variety of roles, to ensure the smooth running of their shops.

Each shop employs one member of staff; there is a store manager directly employed at Crowle who has a wealth of previous experience in M & S stores. At Peopleton there is a postmistress employed by the Post Office. This person also manages the shop at Peopleton, thereby reducing overheads of the community shop.

Steve Denne explained to the working group that from the outset commitment from the community was so vital in terms of volunteering and share sales to secure the necessary “buy in” from the community to see the venture to fruition. Volunteers were involved right the way through including the initial build. Steve also advised that we should sign up for

Volunteering is another way to prevent social isolation and offers opportunities for new skills and work experience too. It can draw commitment from outside of the immediate vicinity for individuals wishing to improve skills, work opportunities or build new social connections.

However, talk of the practicalities is very much dependent on assessment of the appetite to proceed. The decision to proceed any further down the route to creating a community shop rests on the response from the local community and the commitment shown towards the project.  If the response to the public meeting proves to be weak then it throws into question the desire to go beyond this exercise.

A meeting was held on March 19th when members of the working group decided on how to present information to the general public.

The public meeting was arranged for 2nd April 10am at Fairfield village hall and publicised by the Fairfield Village Community Association, at which the working party presented the information gathered to date to those members of the community that were present. Approximately 24 residents attended the meeting and it was made clear to all present that the Working Group had not made any decisions regarding what the shop would look like or where the shop would be situated.

Members of the public were asked their views on what they would like a community shop to sell, any other services that a shop could provide and to consider & suggest suitable locations, each table wrote their responses on paper provided, which are below.  Residents were informed that any proposals would need to be carefully considered and scored, considering various factors.   

To move forward a working group would need to be formed, consisting of people with certain skill sets, which were outlined.

The meeting ended with an indicative vote as to whether the project to bring back a shop & post office should continue its investigation work & establish a skillset working group or whether the project should be ‘shelved’.  Half of persons present showed by a display of hands that the investigation work should continue & skillset recruitment to commence.


Public Meeting Notice

Over the past few months a working group consisting of representatives from FVCA, Parish Council & our District Councillor have been gathering information with regard establishing a Community Shop and Post Office.


At the Social Gathering on Saturday 2nd April, the working group will share its findings at a public meeting that will be held at the Village Hall, starting at 10am.


The purpose of the meeting is for the community to agree whether we should take the next steps towards establishing a Community Shop and Post Office, and to ask for volunteers to join the working group. Please do join us.

To contact the Working Group, email: shop@fvca.org.uk