The great community shop fightback

ROCKETING fuel prices, indifferent public transport and astronomical house prices have all played their part in trying to damage village life across the Midhurst and Petworth area.

Ten years ago the stories of village shops, post offices and pubs closing were all too depressingly frequent.

C130463-1 Mid Kirdstore  phot kate  Sue Ransley, front, and some of the team that run the stores, Sue Michalski, Isy Etherington and L- J Smith, the manager.Picture by Kate Shemilt.C130463-1

C130463-1 Mid Kirdstore phot kate Sue Ransley, front, and some of the team that run the stores, Sue Michalski, Isy Etherington and L- J Smith, the manager.Picture by Kate Shemilt.C130463-1

But somewhere along the way they started to fight back and, with the advent of community-run shops, there is now an increasing number of communities blowing a locally-grown raspberry in the face of adversity.

Kirdford villagers were pioneers of this brave new world, starting from scratch and building their own shop. Down the road, Lodsworth was quick to pick up the trail and even pipped Kirdford to the post in a remarkable project which saw Britain’s first eco-friendly community shop opened in November 2009, just two years after the idea was first put forward.

Milland villagers picked up the gauntlet, building their own shop which opened in December 2011.

Harting villagers had recognised the importance of the village shop a decade earlier, forming the Harting Village Shop Association and buying shop premises for rent.

And in Graffham the village shop committee ensured the shop, which had closed in 2008, continued as a crucial community asset.

See the Midhurst and Petworth Observer April 4 for the full story