This is an article I wrote for the ‘Muswell Flyer’ magazine. It also appeared on the editors blog, but I thought I’d replicate it here, as an example of writing rather than something to influence on my local level although I do hope you take the key message of cherishing your local shops in your own communities.
WARNING! Your next stop may not be there
Bob Dylan once sang, “the times they are a-changin’”.
On 13 July your community is hosting ‘Independent’s Day’ to celebrate the local shops and businesses that helped make the Sunday Times list Muswell Hill as one of the five best places to live in London.
You must come out and support the businesses that feed and clothe you, the ones that provide flowers and books. If you do, you will be supporting each smiling face of an independent shop worker who greets you every time you enter their shops. You will be supporting jobs and security for generations to come.
Celebrating your independent shops and businesses will show the world that you stand with, and for, Muswell Hill. That you stand for our proud and vibrant community because sadly it is under attack from greed.
It is greed that is causing our independent, local, shops, cafes and business to close. With three already out for the count on Fortis Green Road, and more due to go over the summer, 13 July is the day that we must stand up and take the opportunity to keep Muswell Hill local.
It is naïve to think that chains offer nothing, and independents can offer it all, but it is also naïve to think that our community would keep hold of the spirit led caused so many of us to make it home if they disappeared.
There is a place for both independents and chains on our streets. Each offer something different, but a balance must be struck. Hornsey and Wood Green MP Lynne Featherstone launched her ‘Independent Shop competition’ earlier this year to find out best local shops. While it is promising that our local MP is aware of the plight of the community it is up to each and every one of us to show what they truly mean to us.
What Saturday morning isn’t completed by the tender complexity of the aromas that drift whimsically down the Broadway? Coffee, fresh bread and if you cross over, fish so fresh it graces any table.
Evolution is vital in keeping Muswell Hill thriving and over the years the area has been home to some big businesses who have invested in the local community such as O’Neills and The Village who have both played host to the Muswell Hill market.
Alas, what we are soon to be embarking on is the absolute opposite.
How much of money that the 5,000% interest pay day loan companies charge will find its way back into our community?
Even if you don’t subscribe to the spirit of N10, ask yourself, how will an estate agent explain to the prospective buyer of your property that all of what made them look to move to N10 has now been swallowed into the abyss of pay day loans and that our bakery is now a chain that sells awful reheated frozen sausage rolls?
This is our once in a generation chance to make Muswell Hill all that we want it to be.
Come out on 13 July, bring your family and your friends and show them why you live on our wonderful hill. They will be amazed, inspired and fascinated by all our wares, and maybe it will open your eyes a bit wider too.
As Dylan continued, and as I say to you, “Keep your eyes wide, the chance won’t come again.”