Sunday, 6 December 2015
COMMUNITY VILLAGE STORES – JIM SANGER REPLIES
May I, as chairman of the original Shop Committee charged with raising the funds and building the Village Stores and first chairman of the Management Committee, correct a statement in the Wallingford Herald of 2 December 2015 and also comment on Garry McCracken's letter to you?
The accounts to the end of 2014, circulated at the AGM, show that, to date, a total of £225,384 has been raised – not the £150,000 mentioned in the article – largely as the result of the efforts of a small fundraising group headed by David Dobbin. They also show that the shop is now operating at a level to just cover its cash outgoings but not sufficient to provide for depreciation, the replacement of shopfittings nor to put anything aside for a “rainy day”.
Like Garry, I welcome the opportunity for a vote by members but they must have the information on which to make an informed decision. For instance, it is a simple calculation to see that it would cost in wages alone (at the national minimum wage of £6.70 an hour) some £16,200 a year to pay staff to work the hours quoted at the recent open meeting. What commission would the shop receive on sales to offset this? I am told that the Post Office has calculated, on present sales, about £3,000 to £5,000 a year; clearly it is not commercially sensible to take on a full service Post Office on these terms. We certainly should be pushing hard for a much reduced number of hours, which is what the village have been used to anyway. What also would the shop have to pay towards the alterations? There are many unanswered questions.
On the practical side, we heard vividly at the open meeting from both Post Office staff and shop volunteers about the difficulties of operating the Post Office counter next to the shop counter. Personally, I was in a line of five at the Post Office on Monday which has only served to emphasise the points they made.
I know that a large number of those who have helped to create, and continue to support the shop as volunteers, would like to have a Post Office in the village – but not necessarily in the shop. Like them, I would welcome an assurance from the current Management Committee that it will not enter into any contract with the Post Office which would put the shop at risk either practically or financially.
It would be tragic to lose a shop, which is developing so well under Margot and Mandy and their volunteers and for which we fought so hard, for the sake of retaining in the shop a full-service Post Office which makes no sense either operationally or financially.
PS. What about adding a franking machine to Garry's list of services?