Do more, big names urged

A MORPETH business group has urged national chains who operate in the town centre to do more for the community.

Although the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade retained the Best Shopping Precinct or Retail Park title in this year’s Northumbria in Bloom contest, members said it was disappointing that some big companies did not fork out for their own displays.

Now it has been suggested that they could set up a community fund to support future entries for the competition, with any surplus going towards other town projects.

At a meeting of the group Charles Sellers, who is also the Chairman of Northumberland Business Network, said: “I find it quite disgusting that compared to all the effort that goes into promoting Morpeth town centre for Northumbria in Bloom, with some of the national chains you don’t see a single basket or tub.

“We need to do all we can to try to address the situation for future years.”

Chamber Treasurer Mark Trill agreed that the issue needed to be looked at, but also said more of the national businesses did pay for a display this year compared to in 2010.

And member Geoff Proudlock sounded a note of caution.

“We do need to call for these companies to do more, but there has to be some amount of realism because you can spend huge amounts of time to get in touch with head office and still get nowhere with them,” he said.

Photographer Ken Stait said it would be worth asking the national chains to contribute to other schemes that benefit the town.

“We can go about this in a positive way and suggest they set up their own community chest,” he said.

“This would enable them to help promote and support the town they are trading in.”

The Chamber’s Committee will discuss the issue in more detail at a future meeting.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the group John Beynon said he would send a card and write a letter of thanks to Les English, who is stepping down from leading the chamber’s contributions to Northumbria in Bloom.

He also thanked Raymond Dixon for providing flower baskets and tubs after Heighley Gate Nursery and Garden Centre threatened to withdraw the service following a dispute over its planning application to sell a wider range of goods.

“Raymond did a great job at short notice and I think they were the best baskets and tubs we’ve ever had,” said Mr Beynon.

“The Heighley Gate staff who did the watering also did a good job — it was only the management who we had a problem with.

“And we’re grateful to everyone else who contributed to our success.”