I'm staying near Stroud this weekend. Stroud is my birthplace, a market town in the middle of the Cotswolds with an award-winning Saturday farmers market. So I was mightily impressed when I arrived to see this week's headline of the Stroud News and Journal (SNJ) "Shop Local to support our traders". Stroud, like many British towns, is held in a clinch between two supermarkets, with a town centre full of a variety of great independent shops.
"Shop Local, supported by businesses, councils and the SNJ, aims to boost local economies and encourage a greener attitude among customers and traders" says the SNJ. Not only do they want to "raise awareness of the role local shops play in retaining vibrant town centres and a sense of community in our villages" but also to rid Stroud of plastic bags. Stroud District Council has provided hundreds of canvas bags which sell for £1.00 (with such messages on the sides as 'Reduce Refuse Reuse Repair Recycle' and 'Shop Local'. )
It's great to hear that people are campaigning on the Shop Local issue - but it's a shame that it has to happen.That people don't automatically shop in their local shops. When I was a child, my father worked in Stroud and my mother shopped at Moody's. I would go down on the bus from my village four miles away to stroll around, visiting the record shop and the lovely stationers. As the chairman of the Stroud Market Towns Partnership said: "Money spent in local shops stays in the local economy". And as for the bags - so far there are 11 plastic bag-less towns in the UK. Perhaps Stroud will be the 12th?