VOTE: Businesses have co-op shop plan in store to boost town

A group of Midhurst traders have come up with a unique business concept designed to boost the town's appeal.

They want to open a co-operative shop offering something which is currently missing in Midhurst and plough back the profits for the benefit of the town.

But they stress the idea is still at a fledgling stage and now they want the backing of residents and traders in the town to try and get it off the ground.

Among the leaders of the scheme are Martyn Chevis, who owns the West Street hairdressers, Geoff Allnutt, who followed his father into JE Allnutt Jewellers in West Street 25 years ago, and Stephen Cooney of Expressions Hair on Rumbolds Hill.

"The new South Downs National Park is about to open and this is about trying to get people to work to meet a new era as we become part of a tourist attraction which will see even more people visiting the area," said Mr Chevis.

But he warned it could not happen without the support of people in the town.

"If we unite as a town we will prosper as a town," he said.

In just five weeks the group has already gained the financial backing of 40 businesses which have all pledged a donation.

But group members have set themselves a target of 50 backers before they decide on their next step.

"The group is cautiously optimistic," said Mr Chevis.

"We have had a very enthusiastic response from the vast majority of people we have approached so far, but we still have a long way to go."

The idea was born during the January snow when shoppers were not able to get into Midhurst and traders found they had rare time on their hands to discuss business promotional ideas.

"We came up with the idea of a co-operative selling something that was not already available in Midhurst," said Mr Chevis.

"We have not yet decided what that might be or where it would happen and now we want to hear from anyone who has constructive comments."

He added: "It is hoped the co-operative would be run by a manager and volunteers and all the profits would go into supporting local projects that would benefit and enhance the town."

Exploratory meetings have already been held and the group has the support of the Chamber of Commerce and Melanie Burgoyne, Midhurst's new rural towns manager.

Now project leaders are meeting fellow traders to explain their ideas and get them on board.

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