Rural shopkeepers meet to discuss challenges

PUBLISHED: 10:07 25 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:42 10 June 2010

Rural shopkeepers in Devon are invited to a series of workshops to help them meet the challenges of the current economic climate.

Rural shopkeepers in Devon are invited to a series of workshops to help them meet the challenges of the current economic climate.

Devon County Council, the Community Council for Devon and the Rural Shops Alliance, have organised four workshop events throughout September as an opportunity for rural shopkeepers to get together to discuss the difficulties they are facing.

Rural shops especially, who rely completely on the custom of their local community, are susceptible to downturns in the economy, unemployment and basically anything that means people have less money to spend.

The blow resulting from Post Office Limited's decision last year to close many of Devon's post offices and change many more to partnered arrangements, again threatened to pull the rug from under the feet of rural shops.

In response, Devon County Council pledged to support 16 communities where the loss of the local post office meant the potential loss of the only shops in those villages.

The Council is giving these shops £5,000 per year for three years to offset the loss in financial security they had previously had from Post Office Limited. The support package also includes free business advice courtesy of consultants through the Rural Shops Alliance.

The Community Council of Devon has also been helping shop keepers raise their profile within their local communities, which is crucial to those shops' long term viability.

Ken Parsons, the Chief Executive of the Rural Shops Alliance, will be leading discussions at the forthcoming events.

He said: "These are bespoke opportunities to meet other rural shopkeepers and to listen to expert talks from people who really know the rural sector."

The four events are at:

The Pack Horse, in South Brent on Thursday 10 September, from 6pm to 9pm The Lamb Inn, in Sandford, on Monday 14 september, from 6pm to 9pm The Union Pub, in Mortonhamstead, on Tuesday 22 September, from 6pm to 9pm Prewley Moor Arms, in Sourton, on Tuesday 29 September, from 6pm to 9pm.

Cllr Roger Croad, the County Council's Cabinet Member for environmental and regulatory services, said:

"Rural shops contribute significantly to our local Devon economy and are often a lifeline for many communities. Devon County Council, the Community Council for Devon and the Rural Shops Alliance are doing all we can to support our local shopkeepers."

The events are free to attend. Anyone wishing to attend should contact Charlotte Wheedon on 01392 383345 or email charlotte2@devonrcc.org.uk

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