[R]ONNIE BARBOUR: We’re celebrating the independent shops of Cambridgeshire this morning. This is after a new map which shows where all the the independent shops are in Peterborough city centre being launched today. It’s the idea of the city’s local indie retailers. They hope it will boost trade. And Peterborough isn’t the only city celebrating its wide range of shops. Huntingdon and Cambridge have both started business improvement districts, which have web sites advertising. We’re joined now by Rachel Parkin who owns gift shop Reba in Cathedral Square. She’s part of the local independent group. Good morning to you Rachel.
RACHEL PARKIN: Good morning Ronnie. How are you?
RONNIE BARBOUR: Yeah. Good. I love to hear this, because it’s quite a big step to start up a local business, especially a shop these days. How’s it going for you?
RACHEL PARKIN: The group is going really well. Obviously retail at the moment is very hard, so everything that helps us is really welcome to be honest.
RONNIE BARBOUR: Tell us about the map. What’s it look like, and what’s on it?
RACHEL PARKIN: What’s on it? It looks .. I’d say it’s kind of a girls’ map actually. It’s quite pretty. What’s on it? Everything is on it. The independent retailers collections, there’s about twenty five of us at the moment. There’ll be more obviously in future. And the hotels, everywhere it’s going to be distributed, the Passport Office, the Cathedral, the Museum, everything of interest on here that would keep somebody in the city centre, or that people could discover in the city centre, for a good two to three hours.
RONNIE BARBOUR: Clearly that’s a concern. You want people to stay around and come into your shop. You want more footfall, yes?
RACHEL PARKIN: Absolutely. The idea behind it was to increase footfall into the city centre, and i think what we wanted to show was the whole offering of the city centre. So people coming into town, they don’t just go shopping. They eat, they drink, they wander around, they look at stuff, they go to the Cathedral, the Museum as well. We wanted to show everything that was going on in the city centre, not just the shops.
RONNIE BARBOUR: Do people come to Peterborough in your experience for the independent shops? Is it building up a wee bit of folklore that people say, well, if you want this, you go to this shop in Peterborough.
RACHEL PARKIN: I don’t think Peterborough is known for its independents. I think that I would have to be fair and say that. But I think we have got a thriving independent sector, which is quite unrecognised actually. And one of the problems of being an independent business is that you’re normally not in the A1 locations. You’re not on the High Street. You’re not in the centre of Queensgate. You’re normally set back, down a side street something like this. And so part of the idea of the map was that you’d be able to explore it and find out where these places are, and also that they’d be visible. more visible, because we don’t have the money to advertise for example that the bigger stores have.
RONNIE BARBOUR: In Huntingdon and Cambridge businesses have signed up to business improvement districts, which sees them pay an extra tax for extra services. Would you like that in Peterborough?
RACHEL PARKIN: I don’t know much about that, to be honest, but I’d be happy to hear about it. Yes. Anything that improves the business owner’s lot is really welcome at the moment, because as we all know it’s unprecedentedly difficult at the moment.
RONNIE BARBOUR: As soon as I see the words “extra tax” .. that’s what small businesses need is extra tax. Where can people get a copy of the map then Rachel?
RACHEL PARKIN: The map is going to be distributed through the hotels that are on the map, which is the Bull, the Great Northern Hotel and the Park Inn, as well as all the shops and stores that are on the map, the Cathedral and the Museum.
RONNIE BARBOUR: Rachel, good to talk to you.