The former owner of a local bakery chain, which closed its Little Common branch following a visit from bailiffs, has expressed his fears for the future of small businesses in the village.
Earls Bakery was founded by Stuart Earl’s grandparents in 1921 and they opened their first shop in Little Common in 1952. Cllr Earl said: “As a business we were blessed with the loyalty of so many customers in and around the village. As you can imagine it is truly a sad day for me and for many of those people who have shopped with us through many generations.”
Cllr Earl, a Rother councillor, expressed his concerns for the future of small businesses in Little Common. He said: “I know I should be very careful in the language I use, but sadly those in authority have ignored the pleas of local people. This drip drip decline in support for our community could not have been clearer - over 700 local tax payers raised objections to the charging of our community car park, their views were dismissed. Objections to the expansion of housing without improvements to the infrastructure has fallen on deaf ears. These decisions made mainly by people who do not live in Little Common or even Bexhill.
“We all knew that when a second large supermarket chain was given permission to open a store it would be at the expense of the other one closing, and it has happened.
“We now have plans being considered for the Co-op site in Cooden Sea Road, three more small shops and nine flats, where are the customers going to park, where are the staff going to park and where are the residents of the flats going to park?
“The demise of these small businesses, which have given wonderful personal service and great products, will sadly continue if we refuse to listen to local concerns.
“It is essential that we enforce the on street parking regulations. Earls Bakery while under my control required the turnover of vehicles in the lay-by in front of the shop to allow people to stop and purchase items. Without any enforcement the lay-by was full all day with cars that should and could have been in the free car park - so they just drove on by without purchasing anything. These are local businesses employing local people in turn using local services, supporting local activities and charities. Do we really want to destroy our community life? Surely that is what made Little Common the special place for people to live and work in?
“I would like to close by thanking all those wonderful people who supported me, my family and the wonderful staff during the 90 years our family ran Earl’s Bakery.”
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