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THE BIRMINGHAM POST: Local attitudes.

Local centres in Birmingham have been dramatically transformed in the past few decades.

Gone are the days when the week's shopping could be done at a the local butcher's, grocer's and baker's, standing in the queue with the neighbours, chatting about anything from local issues to sport, to families and the weather.

These local shops were often the epicentre of community life and the threads which bound neighbourhoods together.

It is easy to romanticise about the loss of this bygone era. And because of this it is no surprise that the Government is discussing plans to give new powers to communities to bring local stores back to local neighbourhoods.

But before we start to romanticise too much and welcome any new powers that communities might receive to dictate what goes on in their districts, we should remember one important point.

Many of these local shops were forced to close because of forces outside of the local democratic processes.

The busy schedules that most people face in their lives forces them to make choices based on consumerism rather than the values of a close-knit communities.

Recent figures show that most people have to forego their lunch-hours because they have too much work on.

So while we are right to feel nostalgic about the disappearance of Arkwright's et al, rather than entirely blaming Tesco and Asda for the current state of affairs, we should remember one important point.

Our lifestyles, whether determined by work patterns or otherwise, dictate the survival or otherwise of our communities. As consumers, if we don't use what is on our doorsteps, then almost inevitably those facilities will disappear. And that includes the local, friendly, independent shop.
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Title Annotation:Leaders
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jan 22, 2007
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