Turning The Tide Against Clone Town Chiswick

We all have a part to play in protecting our community's independent identity

Related Links

Chiswick's independent traders and restaurants are an essential part of what makes W4 such a wonderful place to live, but times are hard and they are at greater risk than ever of not being able to survive.

Whilst chains like Waitrose make food shopping an easier task, do they really make it a more pleasant one? Can anything beat your butcher knowing you by name? Or your friendly grocer knowing you and your family's faces? The local boutique knowing just what would suit you for that special occasion or even the barman knowing that you particularly like Sipsmith Gin in your G&T!

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) recently launched a campaign called Keep Trade Local which seeks to stem the tide of business closures; reverse the trend of decline of independent shops and defend the choice and diversity that we, as customers, deserve.

Keep Trade Local is a national campaign however, if we all made one or two simple changes to how we shop in Chiswick, the idea could prove to be an effective one.

"If we value our independent retailers here in Chiswick as much as we say we do, we need to continue to support them with more than just words," said one resident who has lived in Chiswick all his life. Concerned that Chiswick is turning into a Clone Town, he believes it's time to make a conscious decision to support our independent retailers.

"We need to act now before roads like Turnham Green Terrace and Devonshire Road lose their identities." He added. "And we would only have ourselves to blame!"

High rents, over zealous parking wardens, CCTV cameras have an affect on small businesses too adding to the fact that the House of Commons All-Party Small Shops Group estimates that there will be no independent retailers by 2015.

According to the FSB, during the course of three investigations in seven years the Competition Commission has consistently failed to understand the value to consumers of small independent shops. Its latest inquiry has again completely missed the point.

For the past three years small independent shops have been closing at a rate if 5,000 per year in the UK. This has risen alarmingly in 2009, when 25,000 small shops - 10 per cent of the total - closed in the first nine months of the year. There are estimated to be another 50,000 shops teetering on the brink.

Sustaining a high street and a community is not only about shopping locally from independent small shops. It is about ensuring that the high street and people who live in the community have a viable sustainable future. Parking, transport, procurement, the threats of supermarkets and out-of town developments - all these issues are best dealt with by local authorities, local community groups, local businesses and local people working together.

November 4, 2010