AudlemOnline understands that approaches have been made from a new company which seeks to help to reduce our total plastic usage by visiting Audlem each month with a van selling normal products packaged in a way designed to greatly reduce plastic wrapping.
You can read their "pitch" by clicking on the link below the picture.
This company is applying for planning permission for this enterprise to allow it to visit Audlem.
Understandably, the Audlem Traders and Shops are concerned at the possible effect on their businesses.
The Store claims to have had support from 24 local residents.
We thought it would be useful to publish a few of the comments that have been received by the Audlem Traders Group to their enquiry to their members.
Lynne Smith - Although I am in favour of a plastic free world I am also aware that a lot of our local businesses who are themselves working on this ethos are struggling. Bringing competition into the village will not help them and may open up loopholes for other mobile shops..
Peter & Chris Silvester - We are particularly concerned with the economic impact this proposal might have on the village. We suspect that this new venture might impact on several local shops, but it's not OK just to say that the independently owned businesses won't be much affected, but that many of the products are those sold by the Coop. Yes, we know they do use plastic a lot, but that's not as important as the fact they are here and have been providing a good service to Audlem for almost 100 years. If their turnover were to be noticeably affected, they might question why they are here, and leave – which would be a major problem for most people in the village, as well as the people who are employed there.
We fully agree with the idea of reducing plastic, but the answer is more complex than a van visiting from time to time. The van operator can select the products that they will sell, even if that leaves omissions of products they don't like, but people need. Local shops can't use that business model, and it takes a long time to research and change products.
Judy Evans - From Williams of Audlem point of view we have already been working hard to sell plastic free alternatives, such as bottled milk, paper straws, plastic free soaps and shampoo, wrapper free greetings cards etc... and we are aiming to extend our ranges.
I also am informed that in line with all British supermarkets, it is the intention of the Coop to take on various planet friendly initiatives.
It is hard to see how a mobile shop would not be in competition with ourselves, or indeed most other shops in Audlem – many of whom are already in a fragile state of operation, even without further cuts to their income.
Whilst some might see it as a benefit to have an "extra" shop here in Audlem now and again – will this be at the expense of NOT having our existing shops here permanently ?
I have to say that we would like to express a strong objection to the proposal on the grounds that it would put at risk the sustainability of Audlem's existing shops, should this be allowed go ahead
Sam Burden - Interesting comments which I total agree with & I'm also in the process of leaving behind cellophane for a biodegradable flower wrap.
I already use kraft paper for wrapping with cardboard box & bags.
Looks like Audlem traders already have a reduce plastic policy in progress. Maybe as traders we need to shout about it a bit more, to prevent mobile/pop up shops infiltrating our local trade that we all work hard to maintain.
....and more in the same vein.
We are told that Audlem Parish Council felt that, whilst a plastic free retail offering was a good idea, The Store would detract customers from local shops and traders who pay business rates and this would be detrimental to their businesses. The Councillors therefore generally objected to this street trading application but they have asked for the views of the business and tourism traders group as well.
Presumably this subject will be on the agenda for the next Parish Council meeting.
AudlemOnline is reticent, as always, to publish its own opinions. But we feel in this case that the Law of Unintended Consequences is likely to apply. While the objective of reducing plastic use and waste is clearly a very important one, if the effect of this were to put one or more of the village shops out of business, the end result would be a less sustainable community and hence increased overall pollution. Add to that the inevitable use of fuel etc in bringing the van here in the first place and the net result appears to us to be more likely negative.
We would like to see this proposal rejected, but also used as a "wake-up" call to local businesses (including the Co-op) to continue with and, if possible, increase their efforts to reduce plastic and other waste themselves, as this becomes an ever more important issue.
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