Concern has been raised over the production of a ‘Gift Guide’ for the Staffordshire Moorlands. Last week, we revealed that Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC) had spent £17,000 on a ‘Gift Guide’ for the district – using some of its share of the Government’s ‘Welcome Back’ fund.
Concern has been raised over the production of a ‘Gift Guide’ for the Staffordshire Moorlands.
Last week, we revealed that Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC) had spent £17,000 on a ‘Gift Guide’ for the district – using some of its share of the Government’s ‘Welcome Back’ fund.
Since then traders, residents and community leaders alike have raised concern over the cost of the production and marketing of the Gift Guide; how the businesses were singled out to appear in the guide; the proportion of businesses which were featured from the three Moorlands towns; and also that no one appears to have received a physical copy of the guide yet – even though SMDC had stated in its original press release about the guide that it had been delivered to all households in the area.
In Cheadle, Town Mayor councillor Sue Walley said: “I understand that Staffordshire Moorlands District Council has apparently spent £17,000 from the Welcome Back Fund on a gift guide featuring independent shops in the Moorlands. The guide has been delivered to households in Cheadle. Have you received yours yet?
“The guide is well produced and showcases Moorlands businesses, however there is a huge disparity in numbers. It features five shops in Cheadle, three in Biddulph and 18 in Leek.
“I wonder how businesses in Cheadle and Biddulph were consulted prior to publication?”
Meanwhile, fellow town councillor Jamie Evans said of the Gift Guide: “It’s just a disgrace, a total waste of money. It looks like a couple of shops in Cheadle have been contacted only how can a welcome back to the High Street not include the whole high street?
“As far as I was aware SMDC kept £33,000 so why couldn’t they of allocated it especially for leaflets to individual towns?
“Oh and social media costs nothing to run and a page nothing, so that’s a massive waste also when individual pages and shops do a great job of it anyway.”
The Times & Echo contacted SMDC about the concerns which have been raised over the Gift Guide.
In response, SMDC leader, councillor Sybil Ralphs, said: “The Christmas Gift Guide and social media campaign are very much aimed at encouraging people back onto the high street to rediscover the fantastic shops and businesses in the Moorlands and, thereby, supporting all traders in the local area.
“It was never intended to be a business register of all traders – it just wouldn’t have been possible to put all of the 450 plus retailers in a single guide. The shops included in the publication were all originally nominated by local employees and only those with a physical shop selling gifts commonly given at Christmas were included.
“Quite a number of businesses contacted, including those in rural areas, either declined to be included or failed to provide information in time for publication. The balance between the retailers in each town reflects this – as well as the nature of the products sold and the fact that Leek has 248 retailers, compared to 101 in Cheadle and 84 in Biddulph.”
Cllr Ralphs added: “I share concerns regarding the distribution of the guides. They were with the distribution company in mid-November so it is disappointing that people have not yet received them and we are liaising with the company on a daily basis.
“The council has delivered strong and responsive support for businesses throughout the pandemic. The vast majority of discretionary funding has been granted directly to businesses with more than £3 million made in payments on top of the £45 million in mandatory grants.
“This has been well received with many businesses contacting us to express their gratitude for the timely support they have received from the council.
“Our commitment to businesses will continue into the New Year with plans for a local food guide highlighting some of the fantastic restaurant and pubs in our district as well as some significant tourism campaigns to encourage visitors to book early for stays in the Moorlands for Spring and Summer.”
The Times & Echo also quizzed SMDC over a new ‘Town Centre Manager for the Moorlands’ role which, it is believed, is also being funded out of the Welcome Back funding.
In response, an SMDC spokesman said: “The council was awarded £87,000 of Welcome Back funding for town centres, a substantial proportion of which (£52,090) has been passported to Leek, Biddulph, Cheadle and Leek Town Councils so that they could deliver local events and undertake town centre spring cleans.
“A new Regeneration Officer post has also been part funded. The duties of this role have included processing of business grant applications; supporting the establishment of Cheadle taskforce stakeholder group to help develop long term engagement and improvement plans for Cheadle town centre; procurement of professional team to look at development options for Mills in Leek; and assisting town councils with delivery of their delegated funding.
“The role is permanent as we want to help boost and sustain the local economy in the longer term. The job advert was openly advertised in line with normal recruitment processes.”
WE asked our readers, through our Facebook page, if they had yet received a copy, and also what they thought of the gift guide. Here’s what some of them said:
Leanne Long: No but then again we never received the mythical survey that every household was supposed to receive earlier in the year either. How has it cost £17,000? Surely It would be more cost effective and eco friendly to provide a paper free copy. ‘Gift Guide’ – absolute joke.
Miriam Matner Birchall: Disgusting waste of money.
Gary Bentley: Not had one either. Looks expensive for a leaflet.
Jo Barnes: What a waste of money.
Ellen Poole: No. Don’t think it gets to the villages.
Robert Kent: Total waste of money and not had or seen one.
Pauline Inskip: Yet again something that has supposedly been delivered to all households, and hasn’t.
Cath Whitehurst: Not seen it, but a waste of money that would’ve been better spent elsewhere I’m sure.
Susan Brannan: Never got one and if it’s mainly Leek I don’t want one. Utter waste of money.
Geoff Amos: We’ve not had one either, £17.000 would have been better spent on the pot holes.
Janet Wood: We never had one either, but it’s mostly Leek.
Paul Plant: Not many Cheadle shops included or even asked about being included. I know for a fact that Cheadle PC Repairs wasn’t asked and I know many others that weren’t either. Absolute shameless favouritism towards Leek yet again, Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.
Carol Edwards: Not had one.
Jamie Evans: Terrible terrible terrible. Worst £17,000 spent. I can’t believe this was passed and classed as acceptable.
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