Farnborough is a success is the oft repeated claim of the imbecile leader of the council. What is the secret of this success, is it something other towns may wish to replicate?
Last Saturday, a cycle shop pulled out of Farnborough, this was after five years and a big investment. Why, why pull out, this is not what we expect for a success story? The wrong people on the street, Farnborough attracts the wrong people, those with the means go elsewhere. And the finger of blame was pointed squarely at the local council and greedy developer KPI/St Modwen for trashing the town.
Not much of a success story there then. Let us look a bit further afield.
The cycle shop was located in Kingsmead, a run down, grubby shopping centre, when it rains the roof leaks and buckets are put out to catch the water. Recent cosmetic changes do not disguise that it is a run down ugly shopping centre. Beware of the pillars, as the edges are razor sharp.
The shopping centre resembles a movie set for a post-apocalypse movie, boarded-up shops, a handful of zombies wandering through to escape from the cold and wet outside.
What was the busy entrance, all the retailers have been relocated or kicked out. Or at least was the busy entrance once upon a time when busy a decade ago. They have been relocated to the dead entrance, even when long ago the shopping centre was busy, this entrance was dead, used by people running to catch the bus. Those retailers forcibly relocated have received no compensation. But then the treatment of these retailers and small businesses no different to those driven out and their livelihood destroyed when half the town centre was demolished to satisfy the greed of a developer, aided and abetted by the local council
A cinema was promised for the summer. If we wish to be pedantic, a cinema was promised over a decade ago, before half the town centre was destroyed. A cinema is now promised for March. A group of chain eateries to cluster like parasites around the foot of the cinema. Only it ain’t gong to happen, there are no chain eateries, nothing but boarded-up units. Nandos was a possibility, but as Nandos at Wastegate (similar model chain eateries cluster around a cinema) has not proved to be a success, Nandos has pulled the plug, and no one else is interested.
The independent cafes in the town appear to have no future, walk by and they are nearly always almost empty.
Triangle, a bowl of soup requested mid-afternoon. No soup. Why, have they run out? No, the kitchen closed at three o’clock. The food in Triangle is awful, the coffee undrinkable. It only remains in business due to regular bail outs. The latest by St Peter’s.
Bread shop cum cafe in Queensmead. A cup of tea. What size cup? A tea bag in a cup, hot water poured over tea bag. Maybe you get a different size tea bag depending upon the cup. A bacon sandwich requested. Don’t do sandwiches. OK, a roll. Too late. Loads of bread tossed in a sack to be thrown away.
Independent businesses are often their own worse enemy. The only way they can compete with the chains is to offer service, better service, quality, better quality, and yet they fail to offer either.
A couple of years ago attempted breakfast in Triangle. Too late. It was two minutes gone their arbitrary cut off. And why two minutes beyond, because of their slowness in serving. There is no excuse for serving awful food. Visit Cafe Mila in Godalming, Guildford Institute Friday lunchtime, Iydea in Brighton, Bristol Skipchen surplus food cafe a not-for-profit in Bristol or Transition Cafe in Fishguard, run by a trust. Quality food at reasonable prices. A quality coffee shop with hand roasted coffee beans freshly roasted freshly ground, a decent espresso machine, an experienced barister, fresh made cakes and cookies.
Why does the bread shop cum cafe throw away its bread? Why not offer half price, why not give away to last customers at the end of the day?
Chains do not close their kitchen half way through the day, or close early. You do not walk in Costa and Starbucks and get turned away, you will be served disgusting coffee, but you will not get turned away.
In the street, three sheds have appeared, selling tat and fast food. Creaming the businesses from local businesses who are there all year round.
The imbecile leader of the council has promised to build on the success of Farnborough in Aldershot.