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Let’s support our local entrepreneurs

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by Jane Bowe

I AM of the generation that can sit down on Sunday evenings and watch Countryfile with pleasure. Early in August, I watched a programme based around the Community Farm just outside Chew Magna. I was fascinated to hear them talk not about food miles, but about food metres.

Now, more than ever, perhaps, we may find ourselves facing a dilemma with local shops and businesses and if we don’t step up and make our feelings and requirements clear, there is a very real chance that we shall start to lose them.

Post-Covid and post-Brexit we are provided with a unique opportunity. So many of the High Street chains who imported so many goods, have closed. Local people still need the jobs they provided however, so how would it be if landlords showed a preference for local people setting up businesses using local products and services?

We have fabulous food and drinks producers in Somerset. Our dairy products are award winning and some of our independent butchers are as good as you’ll find anywhere. I have a family member living in the Channel Islands who would love to be able to get the meat I can buy. (I like to send him pictures when we cook a special meal!)

I am also aware how lucky we are to have such great local coffee shops, pubs and restaurants around Mendip. Building on these businesses, I am sure there is more we can do to make the area an even more successful hub of local goods, produce and services. We already have a fabulous Food Festival, let’s continue to build on initiatives like this.

Supermarkets are convenient and some are very low cost. They have their place, and some people rely on them, so I am absolutely not knocking them. However, it isn’t out of many people’s reach to buy a portion of their weekly goods at local emporia. It is also sometimes a lifeline for people who can’t cope with taking a trolley around a supermarket.

So, I do hope we can be forward thinking about our High Streets. Small can be good – in fact, it can be brilliant. Let’s support our individual local entrepreneurs, and be in the lead when it comes to the inevitable changes. Let’s be the area that shows how change can be done.

Take care.

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