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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny (Economy and Environment) Committee: 13th March, 2012

 

Report of the Director of Environmental and Economic Regeneration

 

Town Centres - Shop Local Campaigns

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             Councillor Curtis requested an investigation into the possibility of the Vale of Glamorgan Council, in partnership with local businesses and town/community councils, running a "shop local campaign" in each of the Vale's towns and villages.  (Attached - Request for Consideration Form)

Recommendation

1.             THAT Committee notes the content of this report.

Reason for the Recommendation

1.             The report is for information.

Background

2.             Shop Local Campaigns (SLC) are internationally recognised and practised.  They are seen by many communities as the answer to the competition and negative effects of out of town shopping developments that have developed in our communities over the past twenty years.

3.             The primary reasons for introducing a SLC are:-

  • sustainability of a home town or village is more important than buying items cheaper elsewhere
  • reduces the carbon footprint and
  • competition and diversity results in fair prices and more choices.

4.             Many of today's modern town centres are described as "clone towns".  Creating a SLC allows a more creative and distinctive shopping experience with a variety of products on offer.  The offer can respond more quickly to the needs of local shoppers and the ever changing needs of the population.  SLCs also allow more innovation, for example, organic produce was first promoted by independent retailers.

5.             Evidence also shows that local shops create employment and self-employment.  In return the people who work in the community also spend in the community, boosting the local economy.    It is reported that over half a million people are employed in the retail sector in our rural towns and villages.  Evidence shows that for every £10 spent in an independent shop, £25 is generated for the local economy.  Multinationals only generate £14.

6.             Shopping local is seen as a good initiative for the environment.  Local shops tend to stock a high proportion of locally sourced produce.  If more people shopped locally, the need to travel on public, but especially private transport would be reduced, thus reducing CO² emissions.

7.             The availability of local shopping is important for the vulnerable members of the community.  Older people, young people and those who cannot afford transport benefit from the goods and services offered locally.  As a result of a successful and sustained SLC local services are less likely to close.  The local services that people rely on such as dentists, hairdressers, vets and the like are more likely to cluster around a high street that is viable and vibrant.  This is also the case for voluntary and public sector services.

8.             The out of town retail developments have over the years managed to create an impression that the local independent trader is more expensive.  However, if travel costs, and the time it takes to get there are taken into consideration, overall costs can sometimes be much higher than shopping locally.

9.             However, the retail offer must exist locally for people to be enticed into shopping locally and supporting its home town or village.  A good standard of customer service is usually experienced in an independent shop which encourages repeat business. 

10.        The Council is currently working on a Town Centres Framework to develop a realistic future plan for each of the four principal town centres.  A 'shop local' campaign in certain areas may be a project that retailers and town councils may wish to pursue in order to market the goods and services on offer.

11.        Many town centres devise their shop local campaigns online using a website as the portal to advertise the retail offer in order to demonstrate the advantages of shopping locally.  It can also be a way of posting discounts/offers online to the benefit of customers.

Relevant Issues and Options

12.        In order to run a Vale wide shop local campaign a budget would be required to fund such costs as web design, printing, marketing and remuneration as well as the time spent managing the scheme and dealing with relevant enquiries from the retail sector and general public. Once set up a SLC needs to be 'refreshed' at regular and frequent intervals and the time and resources required to keep SLCs relevant would be significant.  In addition, and as was the case with the recent report on Voucher and Loyalty schemes, for any SLC to be successful it needs to be a local scheme, defined, delivered and sustained locally, with the needs of each town centre at its heart.

13.        Allied to the above, is the fact that the Council's Economic Development Unit deals with a variety of issues, including town centre management matters.  As a consequence, whilst the Council would be in a position to support any SLC by way of example, through providing web links to any SLC website and facilitating discussions through existing working arrangements such as the Retailers Forum.  Indeed, were the Council to be the driving force behind any SLC it could not and should not be the organisation with responsibility for any SLC. The success and sustainability of any such campaign would be questionable.  This appears to be the considered view of representatives who provided evidence to the Scrutiny Committee on loyalty schemes.  In addition, and in any event the existing town centre management service budget would not extend itself to finance a shop local campaign.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

14.        The Council could support, and facilitate discussions and provide advice in respect of any SLCs.  However, the Directorate is currently seeking savings in line with council wide budget processes, and could not as a consequence lead or implement and subsequently manage any SLC.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

15.        There are no legal implications to the Council in the consideration of this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

16.        There are no crime and disorder implications resulting from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

17.        There are no equal opportunity implications resulting from this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

18.        It is a service plan objective to work with local businesses to reflect the needs of each of the four principal town centres in the Vale of Glamorgan (EDL/A83).

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

19.        The matter is Vale wide and as a consequence no consultation has been undertaken.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

20.        Economy and Environment.

Background Papers

None

Contact Officer

Emma Smith, Principal Officer, Economic Development

Officers Consulted

Committee Reports

Finance, ICT and Property - (Rob Ingram)

Responsible Officer:

Rob Quick, Director of Environmental and Economic Regeneration

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