Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Worcester Park & The Chamber of Secrets

It's time to get on my Worcester Park soap box, so please bear with me on this one.

I got hold of a local 'Guide Book & Directory' published by the 'Worcester Park & District Chamber Of Trade' back in November 1957.

I shall share with you some its many gems in due course, but it started me thinking about the future of Worcester Park's shops and what is being done to promote local traders in the face of ever-growing competition from the big shopping centres, the all-conquering supermarkets and so forth.

The Worcester Park & District Chamber of Trade was, I assumed, a defunct organisation - until I spotted in the window of Nationwide on Central Road a window sticker for the very same organisation. So what is it up to these days? Well, very little on the surface of things - a cursory web search reveals a mention of it in a Sutton Council list of local organisations in March 2007, but nothing else.

Then there is the Worcester Park Traders' Association. I only know that they exist because of the Christmas fair that appears in Central Road for one evening a year (passing by a good many Worcester Park residents thanks to scant local publicity for it). Aside from that, nothing - and again a web search for their activities proves fruitless (except for the Chairman appearing in a Surrey Comet news article about the Low Emissions Zone - an article inspired by a posting on this blog).

It would, therefore, appear, that there are two organisations in existence to act as a voice for Worcester Park traders.

So why are these voices never heard?

Blogging about Worcester Park has certainly opened my eyes to the variety of local independent shops that give Central Road its character and appeal, and without in any way being on an 'only shop locally' mission, I do now make a conscious effort to support the local traders every now and then, instead of enslaving myself to the corporate giants.

Besides, when there is a perfectly decent local butcher and greengrocer within yards of the entrance to Waitrose, a one minute walk to support your local independent traders isn't asking a huge amount.

Without wishing to blow my blogging trumpet too loudly, I know of a number of local establishments who have had people visit them and spend their hard-earned cash directly as a result of reading what myself or my commenters have written about them on this very blog.

If The Worcester Park Blog (with a reach of a few thousand people every month) can play a small role in drumming up support for local businesses, then imagine what a concerted and coordinated publicity effort from our silent friends at The Worcester Park Chamber Of Trade and The Worcester Park Traders' Association could do.

I have no doubt that they both do very valid work behind the scenes to represent the interests of local traders. Yet equally I have no doubt that if they were to stand up and shout loudly and proudly about the quality and variety of local businesses in Worcester Park and do something to promote the idea of shopping locally then this would give a much-needed boost to many of our local traders. It is, after all, these traders that are the lifeblood of Worcester Park.

I will continue to do what I can, in my own small way, to fly the flag for local traders in Worcester Park.

If only others would join me.

(P.S. I was going to e-mail both these organisations to give them their 'right to reply' to this blog piece in advance, but I couldn't find any contact details or web presence for them. Which really does prove my point.)