Businesses in Ruddington have begun exploring innovative new ways they might work together in order to attract more residents and visitors to use our village centre.
On April 12th an extraordinary Ruddington Parish Council meeting was called in the wake of worries about the closure of Thomas’s Greengrocers – the latest of several long established independent traders here who’ve gone out of business or decided to shut up shop. Now a form of “Village Centre Partnership” is being proposed after dozens of concerned locals put their names forward offering to help. Its primary aim is to increase footfall along High Street and Church Street.
Councillor Ian Wilson, who’s co-ordinating the partnership, told us: “The decision was made that any group needed to be business led with a strong community voice and the interests of the wider public represented by the Parish Council. Over 50 people expressed an interest in being involved and we are keen to find a way to involve this wider group. However in practical terms we needed a smaller group. We will be contacting all of those who offered to help asking how they feel they can contribute in the next few days. We decided that the initial group would include two village centre retailers, two hospitality businesses, another village business, two community representatives, two Parish Councillors and two people who had a specialism or expertise.”
Alongside Ian, the current steering group is Ruddington Postmaster Soham Patel; Sally Beards of Phoenix Flowers; Julie Smith from the Black Cat Café; Bhavna Patel of the Red Heart; Steve Ennis from WigWag; St Peter’s Church vicar the Reverend Andrew Buchanan, Laura Ratcliffe of Ruddington Mums; retail marketing guru Janice Moore; regeneration expert Rob Smith and new Parish Councillor Sarah Godfrey. They held what they describe as “a very positive and productive” first meeting on Monday 24th April. However an official name for this new “traders’ taskforce” has yet to be decided upon – so sensible suggestions are being welcomed!
The group states its immediate priorities are to:-
- Pursue a parking approach which meets the needs of the village centre – likely to be different on different streets
- Create a “shop local” campaign which will raise awareness of local businesses to all residents and visitors
- Talk to more residents and visitors about what they would like from the shopping area
- Engage with local businesses to generate a discount loyalty shopper scheme – with Sally, Soham & Julie (pictured top) having conversations with other retailers about this
Julie says: “Ruddington is a lovely village, and the people of Ruddington are passionate about it. I’m hoping that by helping with this initiative, we can all help the shops and build on the wonderful sense of community Ruddington has.”
“The closure of Thomas’s really did ‘rock’ everybody in the village” says Sally “because there’s a real sense of community you get in little local shops which you don’t get in supermarkets or on the internet. People ARE changing the way they shop so we need to be a little more creative in the way we are selling our products and services – and to give people incentives to make them WANT to come and shop in the village.”
Soham was one of the first traders to act to fill the void – by setting up a temporary greengrocery stall outside the closed shop – administered by Mrs Patel from her Post Office counter. He told us: “I just took the initiative and thought, well, we’ve got to try it. You cater for what people want. Being next door, I had the opportunity to use Glyn’s old space. If the business can sustain itself, we have a plan for the rear of the post office – where we’ll make a little development of a fruit and veg stall.” Meantime villagers can already influence this decision – use it or lose it!
Ian concludes: “We’re all agreed any scheme needs to be supported and designed around the retailers. We all recognise the huge strengths in the village, and how much there is going on, and we are in the fortunate position of being able to build on these strengths. It’s a real opportunity to join up existing events and communicate them more widely. The quieter or even currently closed times in local cafes, pubs and even some shops could be used by local groups who do not think of the opportunity to do this. And, whilst we have a number of vacant shops/premises in the village centre, they all seem to have a planned future use over the next few months.”
For our part, RUDDINGTON.info has agreed to promote Ruddington even more vigorously as a place to come to by working closely with the fledgling partnership. We welcome you to contact us with your ideas via this website or by commenting on Ruddington social media.
Together we can highlight all the things that our pretty and historic village centre has to offer – in terms of the many different businesses, retail initiatives and specific events – to encourage both residents and folk further afield to visit us for a #RuddyGoodDayOut!