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Fintham Community ShopShould Cookham Dean Have a Village Shop? 

 

(posted 4 March 2010)

with thanks to Richard Campin


Over one hundred and forty people gathered at Cookham Dean Village Hall on Wednesday 3rd March to hear all about the proposal for re-opening a village shop in Cookham Dean, following on from the successful retention of the Post Office. Headed by Richard Campin a small committee had looked at the pros and cons of a village shop for Cookham Dean and this was an opportunity to share their ideas with villagers. Attendees were asked to fill in a questionnaire, which is available at the bottom of this page for anyone who was unable to come to the meeting.

Initially Richard went though the background to the committee. He said "The Cookham Dean Post Office and Village Shop Committee was formed in February 2009 following the announcement that the Post Office Stores was to close and, as a first priority, we set about finding a home for the Post Office service in order to avoid losing it permanently. The rescue was achieved in August 2009 when the service re-opened in the Jolly Farmer on a two-afternoons per week basis." 

The committee then switched their attention to the re-establishment of the village shop not only to provide a convenience store but also, and perhaps more importantly, to provide the hub of the village community where it would be possible to find out what was going on in Cookham Dean and to buy tickets for village events. They carried out a lot of research with the help of the Plunkett Foundation who provide help to villages seeking to re-establish their local shop and post office. So far they have helped 190 such shops across the country. They also visited several of these from Cornwall to Bucks and arrived at the conclusion that a shop would only survive if they could meet two objectives: 

  1. Premises at zero or peppercorn rental.
  2. Dedicated shop management.

Richard then went on to talk about the proposal. Regarding premises their  research established that all of the suitable existing premises in Cookham Dean were either not available or could not be acquired at anything remotely approaching a peppercorn rent. However Laura Kelsey, landlady of the Jolly Farmer, had very kindly agreed that, subject to Jolly Farmer Board and Shareholder approval and obtaining the necessary planning permission, they could site a portacabin in or alongside the car park of the Jolly Farmer and run electricity and water services to it. The portacabin route has been taken by many shops supported by the Plunkett Foundation because renting or buying a used portacabin provides a very low cost way of testing the water. The photograph on the left shows an example at Ladock in Cornwall. Laura has agreed to waive any site rental for a period of 8 months to enable us to run a trial.

Richard then went on to talk about managing the shop. He said this requires the manager to deal with a variety of suppliers all working on different bases some on sale or return and some not plus attend to staffing rotas, financial management, stock date management, health and safety and development of the service. Harry and Mandy Brar have volunteered to run an 8 month pilot if  premises can be provided and also cover the operational costs for that period. They already run Hillcrest Stores in Cookham Rise and therefore are well qualified by experience to run a shop in Cookham Dean as an operational extension to Hillcrest Stores. They proposed to open initially from 7.30 to 1.00pm and again from 3.00pm to 6.00pm on Monday to Friday and then with a reduced timetable on Saturday and Sunday thereby providing a service on 7 days per week. A small information hub in the portacabin could be developed with suggestions from the community.

To do all this money will need to be raised to buy the portacabin, pay for its installation and pay for the 8 months of operational costs during the trial. If the shop proves a success then the Brars will meet all of the operating costs thereafter. Richard said "We have opted for purchase of a portacabin rather than rental because it avoids the need to raise more money after 8 months to continue operations. If the shop does not succeed and no other person steps forward to try a similar operation then we will sell the portacabin on".

The budgeted cost is:

Portacabin purchase and deliver:   6,000
Installation works      4,000
Wheelie bin relocation  1,500
Shop fittings (shelves, coolers etc)   1,500
8 months operating costs   1,750
Post Office service relocation    1,000
Contingency    1,250
Total  17,000

With one hundred and seventy donations of 50 each making 8,500 and with the balance to be raised from grants, this could be achieved. 

Richard asked if anyone had access to cheap shop fittings which would be very helpful. He also asked for volunteers to be members of the Hub sub-committee.

PLEASE FILL IN THE QUESTIONNAIRE as to what you think, if you have not already done so. Click here for a .pdf file or click here for a Word File. It can be sent to Richard Campin at the address on the questionnaire or e-mailed to richard.campin@btinternet.com.

Planned Timetable

By March 17th:  Return of Survey and Donation Forms
By April 14th: Decision on whether sufficient funds can be raised.
By April 30th: All necessary approvals obtained.
ASAP: Portacabin installed and fitted out, shop opened and subsequently Post Office service transferred from the Jolly Farmer restaurant.


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