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When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going

Wednesday 12 September 2012, 11:00
By John Smith

There's no arguing that we live in difficult financial times. We're in a double dip recession, and businesses and families are tightening belts. The national media paints a picture of doom, gloom, and despondency. In truth, we here in the UK are well off compared to some other European countries. I heard the other day about people in Athens leaving their office jobs and rifling through bins on their way home to find useful rubbish. Now that is definitely not good. In the UK we're not there yet, and God forbid that we ever reach that level of desperation.

The Wagtail, a new pub/restaurant in Wincanton

But what about own back yard? Here in Wincanton it's fair to say that our business community, like others, has to work harder and smarter to keep going. And I believe our business community is actually succeeding in staving off that media-injected "Doom, Gloom and Despondency". Our business community should be applauded for their perseverance in such trying times.

In fact Wincanton has good news. Some years ago Wincanton Town Council consulted the residential and business communities and asked them what they wanted Wincanton to look like down the line. All aspects of the town were included in this survey. The result was a 20-year plan for the future development of the town from the perspective of our own communities. I believe that this plan (The Wincanton People's Plan) holds the key to a vibrant and prosperous Wincanton.

I'm proud that WBT is part of that process, representing the business community and employment. We are now seeing fruit from this plan. The youth of Wincanton asked for improved fast food facilities. KFC opens soon in Wincanton.

We also wanted to see new jobs brought to town. We see this with the arrival of Travelodge, and the new pub restaurant, "The Wagtail". Having suffered job losses with the closure of the Adams Cheese Packing Factory, this is a small but positive start to redressing the situation.

For the first time in over 30 years we now have full services to attract all who travel along the A303. People will stop for a break in Wincanton. The big question is really, "What will we do about it?" All three businesses will most certainly attract footfall from the town centre too. So the big question is how do we attract this new footfall to visit our Town Centre?

For one thing, Wincanton is a historic town. Our restaurants and inns are brim full of historical character. We need to try and entice people from the A303 to come and sample the delights of our character-filled restaurants, hotels, inns and unique quality shops. How do we do this? Can we create a town brochure? If we can, are businesses prepared to pay to advertise in it? Can we get the brochures sited at all three of the new businesses? At the very least we need answers to these questions.

Rather than treat these new businesses as the dreaded enemy I suggest that we need to cultivate a solid relationship with them, and get them to help us develop the town centre. We need them to invest in our town centre so that Wincanton becomes a great attraction that they can use to advertise their services.

Maybe you all have different ideas. If you have I would be delighted to hear from you. [.

This is a time where in tough times we need to be equal to the challenge, stand up and get going.


Will Cutts
Posts: 1
in reply...
Reply #1 on : Fri September 14, 2012, 14:12:07
Not usually having the time or inclination to respond to the articles on this forum, this time I have to make an exception. Yes we do live in hard times, that is if you are a small company or individual, not necessarily if you are a FTSE 250 listed company or part of one of the largest restaurant networks in the world – Marston’s and KFC respectively.

The recession is a time where usually expensive assets and land can be snapped up cheaply by rich corporations and individuals, whilst those at the smaller end struggle to keep what they have.

From the point of view of one of the pubs in town (as I feel the article does address those of us in the hospitality industry) trading has been difficult but almost sustainable. We are all working “smart and hard” as anybody who works as a self-employed publican will tell you have to do.

To then inject more competition from limited disposable income available is exasperating and difficult situation. Trade from the A303 will in the majority of cases only visit these establishments and nowhere else. This in turn impacts on other local businesses. I spend my money with local traders as far as possible. Ask these three businesses which local suppliers they use.

The jobs created are of minimum wage and even below if you are under 18 years old, and as such are of low value. Have they created jobs or are they canabalising jobs from elsewhere? We were going to have to take on 2 part time members of staff but have refrained from doing so and I am sure this pattern is being repeated locally.

As far as the suggestion that KFC only came to Wincanton because the local youths wanted it and this was then facilitated by Wincanton Town Council and Wincanton Businesses Together is frankly laughable. My main complaint about this article though is the inference throughout that we are stupid and lazy. “Work smarter not harder” – “stand up and get going”. I for one have been working solidly for five years, trying new ideas, keeping some, rejecting others, but always to some degree reinventing. What I think we would have all liked when we were voicing our concerns at these council meetings long ago, was some support from the Council and Wincanton Businesses Together to fight the plans. To now say that we need to go to them to ask for some co-operation to get some crumbs from the table is unbelievable. This may sound as though I am being negative and pessimistic, usually the first retort from those wearing rose tinted glasses to the realists amongst us. I am fighting every day for my business and so propose this. It is up to the people of Wincanton to decide. We have 8pubs in town, 7 of them have ties to the local area, spend locally, raise money for charity locally and have no shareholders. 2 of them offer accommodation, most offer food, all of them historic and full of character. One has a head office in the Midlands where the money is sent back and distributed to shareholders. The question is which do the people of Wincanton want?

Posts: 1
More opinions...
Reply #2 on : Fri September 14, 2012, 18:37:42
This article is also generating some discussion on our Facebook page - see for more points of view.
Posts: 1
New is good?
Reply #3 on : Sun September 16, 2012, 09:29:10
Well Wincanton Town can now live upto its name TOWN as we have three brand new 2012 establishment,food,drink and sleep all offering great value for money at a reasonable to good quality.This is great for competion in the town.Having sampled one out of the three offerings I find the Wagtail very good value for money at a reasonable quality,the service was good and the staff very helpfull.
Victor Meldrew
Posts: 1
Re: When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going
Reply #4 on : Thu September 27, 2012, 12:16:48
Well, from what I have seen in this section, it appears that the malaise of Wincanton is not only alive, but thriving. Apathy rules as ever!Where is the "together" in re-generating our High Street? We seem to have a `head` of Wincanton Businesses Together, but just where is it looking? Article`s abound, but.......
Last Edit: September 27, 2012, 12:54:42 by Victor Meldrew  

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