Shopping centre on the up

COFFEE shop volunteers today hit back at claims that Stoke Park Shopping Centre was becoming deserted – saying demand was up.Sylvia Hart manager of the Oasis community coffee shop praised people for their donations and said the service was attracting new customers all the time.

By Amanda Cresswell

COFFEE shop volunteers today hit back at claims that Stoke Park Shopping Centre was becoming deserted – saying demand was up.

Sylvia Hart manager of the Oasis community coffee shop praised people for their donations and said the service was attracting new customers all the time.

It comes after Stoke Park residents feared the estate would lose its shopping centre as more businesses moved out.


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But The Evening Star revealed the rumours were unfounded as the owner is looking to fill the empty premises.

"We still have our lease," said Mrs Hart. "It is important for people know we are here. Our work does go on and we will open indefinitely as long as people need us."

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The shop opened as a charity three years ago for families enjoy a coffee and chat in cosy surroundings. It has comfortable sofas, tables and a children's play area.

Mrs Hart admitted the empty shops made the centre look like a "ghost town", but was delighted letting agents Elsom Spettigue Associates were looking to fill the unused premises.

"When the butchers went I thought this was it because, in my opinion, it was the main focus other than the doctors and chemist shop.

"But if anything our customer base has started to increase and still new people are coming into the coffee shop saying they didn't even know it was there.

"We have boards out in the square, which people are practically tripping over. But some people see the three-piece suite in the window think that it is too posh and too expensive, which of course it is not.

"Some people also aren't aware that it has a play area so they don't realise children are welcome."

Mrs Hart praised the work of the dedicated team of volunteers, many of whom have been at the shop since it opened. She also thanked people for their donations and those who use the shop.

"The financial situation is not bad. We have had some very generous donations.

"We have all the usual services to pay for, such as electricity and water and continue for as long as the donations continue.

"I just feel very strongly that we have gone on lot longer than anticipated and are looking towards our future in the precinct."

The opening times are 10 am to 1 pm, Monday to Friday.

If you would like to become a community coffee shop volunteer, contact Mrs Hart on 01473 602879.

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