Letter from the Chair (April Village News)

From Sam Sharp, Chair of the Weston SOS (‘Save our Shop’) Committee, published in the April edition of the Weston-on-the- Green Village News.

It is with great pleasure that I write to you, the villagers of Weston on the Green, as the appointed Chair of the newly founded Weston SOS (‘Save our Shop’) Committee, following our initial meeting on the 27th of February.

Despite being a successful, viable business and hub of the community (even in the wake of COVID and recent postal strikes), the current owner Yasemin, is now looking to sell the Weston Pantry. Her concern, and one that was felt by the rest of the village at the village meeting on the 22nd of February, is that a new owner may not be so community-focused; or that the shop may eventually be converted into a residential dwelling and lost as an amenity to the village completely.

I wish to reiterate the comments of support for her during the meeting – it is clear she has made a huge impact on the village and grown it as a hub for the residents and businesses of Weston and surrounding villages alike. I would also like to thank Diane for organising and chairing the village meeting and those that spoke as this was the catalyst for our existence.

I hope that I can serve you, the village and the committee to preserve the future of the shop and post office as I was moved and buoyed by the outpouring of support in its favour during the village meeting. For those that couldn’t attend, the official record will be posted to our website (see below).

Weston SOS has been formed with a simple aim in mind – to maintain a Shop and Post Office amenity and ensure it serves as a community hub within the village.

Nothing is off the table in terms of how that can be achieved. As was obvious at the village meeting, we also have multiple different perspectives for how that can be achieved within the committee which we must carefully evaluate. We will need to ensure that any proposals we put forward have the support of the village and are also financially viable/feasible within a timeframe that is acceptable to Yasemin.

We have quite the task ahead, but I’m confident that we have a great committee of nine members from different backgrounds and parts of the village, each of whom bring unique skills, insight, and perspective to the cause – I wish to thank them for stepping up and for putting their faith in me as Chair. Of course, this is a complex undertaking so we need all the help we can get (!!) – so please do get in touch if you think you can help in any way, whether that be acting as special advisors, to share feedback and ideas or offers of financial support. Thanks to those of you that have already come forward – we will be in touch soon!

We will be engaging with the village and local businesses over the coming weeks/months – most likely with a survey of residents and talking to businesses to assess the feasibility of various options such as raising funds for community ownership. We will also share information via our website and, where appropriate, further village meetings or consultations.

To reach me directly as chair, you can contact me on chair@weston-sos.org, or for general comments/enquiries, please email or speak to the committee (see below).

If you would like to follow our progress or find out more, we have set up a website (weston-sos.org) and a Facebook page (‘Weston SOS’) – you can also email us at committee@weston-sos.org if you have anything to share.