20 May 2010

Two Parish AGMs: village shop, brook, 20 is Plenty and more

Whiteshill and Ruscombe on Tuesday, Cainscross on Wednesday and well it would have been three this week if I could have got to Randwick's tonight - however it is Stroud District Council's AGM tonight.

Photos: first two drinks and nibbles after the Whiteshill and Ruscombe AGM and the notice in Ebley Mill re the Cainscross AGM.

Whiteshill and Ruscombe Parish AGM is always a very informative and social affair - about 12 speakers or more presented brief reports on what they had been doing during the year. I did one on the District Council and one on the Ruscombe Brook Action Group. The Chair is strict so I had to try and keep to my 5 minutes in each of those slots - so a bit of a race through stuff - much of what I have covered in my recent newsletter or key issues re the election.

It was great to hear from groups like the village shop - all volunteers - and they need more - they are now in their 12th year - huge congrats to them. Indeed they did another undercover survey and found their prices are still excellent compared to the surrounding small shops. I've enclosed below the survey we did five years ago for interest.

The Parish Council gave feedback on their successes over the year (don't forget elections) - in particular three areas that I've had lots to do with - the allotments, opposing the housing developments (see here, here and the meeting) and traffic calming...... the saga of the '20 is Plenty' signs was shared by the Parish chair - the County approving the signs and now saying they must come down. However it was interesting to get the results of the recent traffic survey...4 years ago 37% of traffic was going above 30 while this month only 1.75% was going above 30. The 20 is Plenty could be playing a part? But as I've said before what we want and need is a 20 mph in all residential areas.

We also heard about the developing international links by Whiteshill School, how the Village Agent was supporting people over 50 in the area and from Snow Warden Gerri Kimber about her struggles to obtain grit earlier this year. The Church noted it's need for funds - I think it was some £700 per month for running costs for the two churches. Lots more from village groups but this is just a taster.

At Cainscross Parish on Wednesday evening I was able to give an update on projects with the Ruscombe Brook and the Stroud Valleys Water Forum. One of the issues I was able to highlight was the combined sewage overflow in Gladfield Gardens. I requested that the Parish send letters to the EA and Severn Trent in the hope of reducing the problems of sewage there. The meeting agreed to ask the Parish. I wasn't able to stay for the whole meeting but heard reports from many local groups in that area including allotments associations, residents groups and the Cainscross Rugby Club (who are sadly bottom of 11 teams but very enthusiastic and have raised lots of money to improve facilities).

Anyway let me finish with that press release about the Village Shop from 2005...including the view of the old sign which was recently replaced....

19th July 2005
Volunteers do shopping basket comparison to encourage locals to support their local store

The Whiteshill and Ruscombe Village Shop has been run by volunteers since it opened in 1998. In the hope of countering claims that they were much more expensive than other shops in the area, they carried out a price comparison using a cross-section of 18 randomly selected items. Having seen the local post office close earlier this year, the community was keen to ensure they don't also lose their one remaining shop. The volunteers went around the other shops with notebook in hand collecting the prices. They found that their shop easily beat their nearest rival convenience store, where prices were a whopping 19% more expensive and also faired better than expected against the supermarkets (i).

Philip Booth, a local resident and regular customer, who helped organise the price comparison, said: "We were surprised by the significant difference in price with the other local store. We are clearly very much better value for money. We also looked at two supermarkets and found as expected that they were cheaper - but by only 11% to 15%. The bus fare would eat a lot of that."

Philip Booth, added: "I think some people have forgotten this shop is here and what a good range of services they have. Few can beat the cafe prices - and no one beats the incredible view nor the wonderfully relaxed and friendly atmosphere. And with summer holidays on the way, what better place to come for a drink where you can watch your children play in the playground. Plus you can hire DVDs, borrow books, get many local products - and all supporting the local community (ii). The homemade jams are worth the trip alone!"
Volunteers wanted

Geoff Warren, Secretary for the Whiteshill and Ruscombe Village Shop said: "The shop is looking for more volunteers to help run it - full training is given and there are many different areas where people could help from working in the shop a couple of hours a month or in stock control or expanding the services. It’s a good way for newcomers to get to know people and everyone who has worked here seems to really like the atmosphere and the flexible working arrangements."
Shop opening times: Mon - Fri 9 - 5, Sat 9 - 1, Sun 9 - 11. Contact number for volunteers: Mary Watkins 01453 766277

(i) The items selected were picked at random and all items in the survey were included to ensure fairness. The survey was carried out on 3rd June. The lists compare prices; a '?' signifies the price is unknown or the same item was not available. Where this occurs the item was not included in that particular price comparison. Item - Whiteshill and Ruscombe price - Other local store price - Supermarket A price - Supermarket B price Hovis sliced white bread - 78p - 89p - ? - 77p Small wholemeal loaf - 75p - ? - 65p - 69p Pot noodle - 79p - 86p - 68p - 70p Heinz Baked beans - 55p - 59p - 44p - 44p Milk - 43p - 42p - 32p - 32p Branston Pickle - 72p - 99p - ? - ? Del Monte sliced peaches - 72p - 99p - 72p - 79p Countrylife butter - 79p - ? - 72p - 75p Atora Suet - £1.15 - £1.48 - 90p - £1.05 Kelloggs Cornflakes 500g - £1.65 - £1.79 - £1.28 - £1.29 Whiskers pouches - 29p - 31p - 26p - 26p Ambrosia Rice pudding - 66p - 75p - 54p - 55p Caster sugar - £1.09 - £1.49 - 84p - 84p Sardines - 49p - 59p - 47p - ? Mullers corner yoghurts - 41p - 49p - 28p - 41p Rowntree pastells - 32p - 39p - 34p - 35p Yorky chocolate for girls - 39p - 46p - 43p - ? Soothers - 51p - 55p - 49p - ?

Whiteshill and Ruscombe price for all 18 items: £12.49 Other local store price for 16 items: £13.04 Whiteshill and Ruscombe price for same 16 items: £10.95 ie £2.09 more expensive in One Stop - this calculates to be 19% more expensive??????? Supermarket A price for 16 items: £9.36 Whiteshill and Ruscombe price for same 16 items: £10.99 ie £1.63 less in Tesco (15%) Supermarket B price for 14 items: £9.21 Whiteshill and Ruscombe price for same 14 items: £10.38 ie £1.17 less in Waitrose (11%)

(ii) The Whiteshill and Ruscombe Community Shop is housed in a refurbished Portakabin perched on the edge of the Cotswolds near Stroud, with parking, a playground, coffee bar and some of the best views in Gloucestershire. It opens seven days a week and is entirely staffed by volunteers mainly retired people or mothers with children at school. In addition to stocking groceries, the shop offers newspapers, DVD rentals, local crafts, local products like Farmers Market favorite, 'Frocester Fayre' frozen meals, books to borrow and one of the cheapest places for cake and a tea or coffee in the County. Health and safety requirements demanded a loo, so a second-hand disabled-access portaloo also has pride of place on the site and is allegedly the largest loo in the village!
Following a survey in 1997 which indicated overwhelming support for a local shop, a formal management committee was set up with a constitution, a chair, treasurer and secretary; the inaugural meeting included representatives from a wide range of community interests. Fund-raising started and more than £6,000 in loans was raised in the community, Stroud District Council gave £5,000 and Whiteshill and Ruscombe Parish Council donated another £1,000.. Near the playing field and car park was identified as the best site. Planning permission was sought. A Gloucester school donated free an unwanted cabin which was transported to the site; local contacts it happen at half the normal cost. A local builder and a couple of local retired people then transformed the outside of the battered old terrapin to suit its new life. Inside, heaters were donated, as was crockery and cutlery for the cafe. The Co-op and Sainsbury's were contacted for permission to stock their brands, and the shop became a reality. Within 2 years loans were all repaid.

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