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Community bid to save village shop

PUBLISHED: 15:46 06 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:18 03 March 2010

A SUFFOLK village is teetering on the brink of losing its shop and post office unless a race against time to fill a vacancy can be won. Among the possible options mooted to save Copdock village stores from closure is for enough volunteers to be found to operate the shop as a community business, with the backing of the parish council.

A SUFFOLK village is teetering on the brink of losing its shop and post office unless a race against time to fill a vacancy can be won.

Among the possible options mooted to save Copdock village stores from closure is for enough volunteers to be found to operate the shop as a community business, with the backing of the parish council.

Current owner Eunice Parker says she will leave the store at the end of September. The business has been up for sale for the last 18 months but as yet nobody has decided to buy.

"It's the same old story. People in the village don't use the shop as much as they should. They don't appreciate it," said Mrs Parker, 71, who lives in a flat above the store on Pearsons Way.

"They want to blame it (the loss) on the supermarkets that are around but when it comes to it, it's up to people to use their village shop."

After only five-years running the business Mrs Parker says she feels "disappointed" at having to leave but sees no other option. The shop is losing money and she says she has to shoulder the burden with her pension.

"A lot of villagers don't know even what I have in stock and they are quite surprised sometimes. I shall go knowing I have done what I could. If someone else comes along with better ideas or different ideas and can make it work then good luck to them."

Two possible options for the store would be to sell it and the post office together with the self-contained one bedroom flat or for the post office to continue alone, with or without the flat. Unfortunately as the date of Mrs Parker's departure draws near these options are becoming increasingly unlikely.

A third proposal is for the villagers themselves to take over the running of the business.

"It has happened in other places and there are grants available," said parish council clerk Linda Pattle.

"But we need enough people who are willing to give up their time to help out. Mrs Parker has said she is going in September whatever happens so we are just waiting to see if people come forward."

Failing these the shop will be lost. Nearly 15 years ago the parish council requested the use of one of Babergh District Council's new homes to use as a shop and they have leased the property from them ever since.

Unless they can find an alternative community use for the property and fund the rental they must surrender the lease on the store and pay for the restoration of the property to a council dwelling.

"It would be a terrible shame if it does have to close," said parish and district councillor Peter Jones.

"It's a good property and it could be a viable business. I'm not all pessimistic about its future."

If you would like to find out more about operating the shop as a community business call Copdock and Washbrook parish clerk Linda Pattle on 01449 674116.

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