Community Shops

Slindon must be one of the most beautiful and unspoilt villages in West Sussex.  Much of the landscape and many of the houses are in the care of the National Trust.  But Slindon's story is a parable for how our rural communities are being affected by modern trends.

First one of the two remaining village pubs closed, then the shop and finally, last year, the post office.  Thank goodness the primary school and a village hall remain.  But changes like these can rip the heart out of our villages.

Supermarkets are powerful and popular, but their success draws people away from village shops which provide a service for people who can't drive, sell local produce, and are a hub where local people meet every day.

So I was delighted to attend a meeting at the Coronation Hall in Slindon last Friday evening to support plans to open a combined shop, café, and information centre that would be owned by the local community.

The proposals are being put forward by SlindonLife - a group of villagers that work together to promote new initiatives - and they hope that this will create a new focal point for Slindon.

Around 80 villagers attended, including local resident Gordon Roddick, co-founder of The Body Shop, who as someone said knows a thing or two about retailing!

Amberley has already opened a community shop.  It has been a great success, I think partly because local people feel that they have a stake in it.

Over the last few years nearly 1,400 rural post offices, 200 of the smallest schools and nearly 400 shire police stations have closed across the country.  Rural pubs are shutting down at the alarming rate of two a day.

But with innovative solutions like community shops, we can reverse this trend and revitalise village life.  So well done SlindonLife and Chairman Mike Imms.  I really hope that you succeed with this positive idea. 

Michelle Taylor