The picture on the front page of my blog shows Ramsbottom, where I live, with Peel Tower in the background. One of the things that attracted me and my wife to Ramsbottom when we were considering where to move to in the North West a year ago was the plethora of unique, local suppliers and traders the town has to offer. It’s certainly something that visitors to chez-Walker refer to when we take them down to Rammy town centre, or village as we like to call it. Shops, you see, are an attraction. They set the tone of an area and good ones should be nurtured and, hopefully, well supported by local people.
I mention all this because I have a bit of a worry about the increase of a certain type of shop in our town and the possible negative effect this might have on the local environment. I’m talking about supermarkets. We already have two right next door to each other in Tesco and Morrisons and come November we’ll have a third with the arrival of the international discount chain, Aldi. I gather that it took Aldi a little while to get planning permission for the new store, such was the level of opposition to their arrival in Ramsbottom. Many of the local traders were understandably unhappy at the prospect of a third supermarket ariving in what is after all a small Lancashire town yet despite all the opposition planning permission was granted and November will see the arrival of the ‘pile it high and sell it cheap’ German store giant.
In the current credit-crunched and cash-strapped climate, there may be more reasons to spend a little and live a lot, but my concern about the arrival of this third supermarket to Ramsbottom was sparked further when I read last week’s Manchester Evening News exposé about cut-price alcohol promotions and their role in the region’s binge drinking culture.
Aldi in particular was singled out for selling their Taurus strong cider at just £1.79 for a two-litre bottle. Given that cider is often the drink of choice for youngsters looking to get tanked up on cheap booze, I worry about the potential ramifications in Rammy of Aldi’s arrival.
A few months down the line, I really hope we are not talking about an increase in drink-related problems in the town. Locals would rightly be up in arms if we saw pubs in Rammy selling booze ridiculously cheap. We should also apply the same standards and vigilance to supermarkets who are selling the stuff even cheaper and in greater volumes.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not having a go for the sake of it at Aldi et al here. Rather, I just want them to behave and trade in a responsible way so that we can preserve the uniquely local atmosphere that Ramsbottom and its shops create.