Lesley Bradley-Peer, Chair of Transition Penwith writes:
I imagine it’s no surprise to many that wednesday saw the opening of another supermarket in Penzance. But how many people would have realised that it’s supermarket number nine? Yes nine! That's three huge out-of-towners, two large stores at Wherrytown, two 'little' and one large one on Market Jew street, and one medium store in the Wharfside Shopping Centre! I can't help but wonder: 'How many supermarkets can Penzance sustain?’
It’s clear that Penzance needs a supermarket or two. One only has to look at the thousands of people and how many tonnes of goods they purchase every day to understand that local independent traders could not supply all their demands.
Don't get me wrong, I firmly believe in supporting local traders. Independent businesses build social capital, bring communities closer together and give a town its unique identity. For every pound spent with a local business 80p stays in the local economy. For every pound spent at a supermarket only 20p stays. Add that fact to the vast amounts of fossil fuels and finite resources which supermarkets depend on and, in the long term, they just don't make sense. However, things don’t change overnight and right now supermarkets have a role to play in providing the people of Penzance and Penwith with food and goods. But do we really need nine of them to do this?
And, if not, how many supermarkets could go and which ones ought they to be? Which of the nine supermarkets in Penzance do really care for the town as well as their profits? I would like to see if any have a set of ethics which they stand by or a document outlining their corporate social responsibility.
Personally, my supermarket of choice is The Co-operative. Some people still do not realise that it’s owned by its members (who are also its customers) and proactively supports local community initiatives. Given its size and space it does a good job of providing for our basic needs and more whilst having a 150 year history of ethical trading.
Transition Penwith is interested to know how many supermarkets the people of Penwith believe that Penzance needs. Take a look at this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Penzance-Nine/667344426619436
Peninsula Voice was first published in 1982 and for many years provided a platform for views and opinions that did not appeal to the local papers. Peninsula Voices is its successor on the World Wide Web and the people behind it have tried to make it a very flexible site so that it can be developed over time and in response to your thoughts and suggestions. The more feedback you give them, the more they can make it a site that suits everybody.
We're having an informal monthly get-together on the first Thursday of every month at the Dolphin Tavern in Penzance. Our e-mails go out to hundreds of people and we want to create more opportunities for more of those people to meet each other and make connections because ... this is what building a resilient local community is really about.
The Transition Penwith Core Group is elected at the AGM every year and does its best to steer the organisation in the intervening twelve months. But it's not possible for the Core Group to do absolutely everything - we want to facilitate more people taking action on the ground.
Social events like these are a way of exchanging ideas and talking informally about how this could be brought about. So why not come along and chat about your views on the end of the oil age and what you could do to make the transition smoother?