Friday, 6 September 2019

'Booking' the trend

A couple who have lived in Bourne all their lives are throwing open the doors this weekend to their dream - a new independent bookshop for the town.

Karen and Peter Smith have invested a significant amount of their personal savings into their Bourne Bookshop venture, which is located in the town’s Burghley Centre.

We’re excited it has finally come to fruition,” says Karen, who previously worked for a local agricultural firm and will be the shop’s full-time manager. She expects to employ two or three part-time staff.

“I love meeting people and have always enjoyed books so this is the perfect combination for me,” she adds.

Bourne Bookshop joins a growing number of successful, independent bookshops across the country that are bucking the trend for ebooks and online purchasing.

“Things have come full circle and people increasingly want to read real, printed books and browse before they buy,” explains Karen.

“We really want to make it work and have been overwhelmed by all the messages of support we’ve had from local people while preparing the shop.”

Karen and Peter took a long time to find exactly the right premises with good footfall and were supported in their quest by InvestSK.

“We are very happy with our location in the Burgley Centre,” says Peter, who has three grown-up children and one grandchild.

He plans to support Karen on the business side and in the shop at weekends but will continue his job as a market development manager for a national agricultural firm.

“It’s around five years since there was a bookshop in Bourne and we decided now was the time to plug this gap in the local market,” said Peter.

"This is an independent family business and we are treating it as a serious business venture," he added.

The shop will only sell brand new books, along with a few other specialist lines including jigsaws and some children’s toys.

“We'll have about 2,000 fiction and non-fiction books in stock at any one time covering all genres, as well as a good children's section," says Karen.

"We'll also have a next-day ordering service and, as things develop, will adjust the range of titles we stock according to what our customers like and ask for.”

The shop had two preview open days during the Bourne Cicle Festival weekend and is being officially opened by Coun Brenda Johnson, the Mayor of Bourne, this Saturday (7 September) at 9 am.

Initially it will be open six days a week between 9 am and 6 pm but Karen says opening times may become more flexible, according to customer needs.

“We'll also be looking to open on Sundays and some late evenings, especially at times of the year like the run up to Christmas.”

Jon Hinde, head of economy and skills at InvestSK, said: "It's a great boost to the town to have another new independent retailer on the high street, and one that provides an offer not currently available.

“This will help to increase footfall in Bourne while also diversifying the current offering in the Burghley Centre and town as a whole."

Opened in 1989, Bourne's Burghley Centre has undergone a new lease of life in recent years.
As well as a variety of independent shops it is now home to several big high street names including a Marks & Spencer foodstore, Specsavers and Subway.

 Article written for Stamford Mercury newspaper - Bourne bookshop set to open on Saturday

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Bad hair week

Boris Johnson won the Conservative leadership by posing as the candidate who could deliver Brexit and win an election.

He did not reveal, however, that he was calculating to purge the party of dissenters, despising its pluralist history, reinventing it as something anti-conservative and risking its destruction in the process.

In a few disastrous days he has engineered the loss of the Tories’ majority in the Commons and surrendered control of the legislative agenda to opposition MPs.

His discomfort in parliament on Wednesday this week was palpable, although he tried to mask it with the usual repertoire of excruciating bluster and childish gesticulation.

He used four-letter words and transgressed Parliamentary protocols and then, in one awkward peroration, declared: “Britain needs sensible, moderate, progressive Conservative government.”

Even by Johnson’s questionable standards it was a moment of exquisite hypocrisy, identifying precisely the Conservative tradition that his agenda and methods seem certain to extinguish.

It seems there is a new acceptance amongst those in high political office - including Johnson and his raft of ideologically focused MPs - that bare-faced lying is okay if it supports your political ideology or personal ambitions.

The sight of Jacob Rees-Mogg Esquire, leader of the house, prostrating himself on the benches was not helpful either, signalling utter contempt to Parliament, the country and Her Majesty the Queen. By design or otherwise it was symbolic in every way.

In all this, the media are absolutely gagging for an election - you can hear the orgasmic 'bring it on' ecstasy in the voices of specialist political commentators, as objective analysis is thrown to the wind.

The main opposition parties led by Jeremy Corbyn and Joe Swinson are right to be suspect of the motives of Johnson and his creepy entourage in trying to engineer an election date before the end of October.

Rightly, it is now the opposition who should be setting the agenda and they need to hold their nerve in the face of unfounded rants and claims from Johnson.

The Prime Minister should stew in his own entrapment for a few more weeks. Let him wallow in his messy, minority government before scuttling off to Brussels to ask for an extension.

Alternatively, he could be brave and put everyone out their misery by revoking Article 50. Either way, an election can wait... for now.