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Editor urges Ham&High readers to get behind businesses that go the extra mile

PUBLISHED: 14:57 05 November 2008 | UPDATED: 15:34 07 September 2010

IT S no exaggeration to say that the next six months will be among the most challenging ever for many of the independent businesses which give the Hampstead and Highgate areas their distinctive charm. Nor is it an exaggeration to suggest that the shape of

IT'S no exaggeration to say that the next six months will be among the most challenging ever for many of the independent businesses which give the Hampstead and Highgate areas their distinctive charm.

Nor is it an exaggeration to suggest that the shape of our high streets could change forever - and not for the better - if our smaller businesses are not supported during these very difficult times.

That's why the Ham&High is today launching its Keep It Local campaign, urging our readers to support businesses that sit at the very heart of their communities.

The run-up to Christmas is traditionally their most important trading period. It is in the weeks between now and December 25 that they will most accurately measure the true impact of the dreaded credit crunch.

In this time of financial fear and uncertainty, our campaign is aimed at accentuating the positive.

Keep It Local will celebrate the quality and diversity on our high streets, highlighting outstanding examples of how small traders - and some who are not so small - have a clear sense of their place in the community and how they are making a vital contribution to their local economies in ways that deserve the support of our readers.

We're saying that shopping for Christmas in Highgate, Belsize Park, Hampstead, South End Green or Swiss Cottage (to name a few) will be much more fun than surfing the internet for your presents or essentials, just as walking to your local shops will be much more rewarding than taking the bus or tube to Oxford Street.

We'll also be asking local authorities what they can do to help. Government policy looms large over many areas affecting small businesses but our councils do have authority in many important areas, including planning regulation, which tends to favour the bigger corporations, and that ever-present impediment to free trade, parking enforcement.

Most important of all is the call to our readers to get behind their local traders. Every Ham&High reader could probably name a number of local businesses which enrich their lives and which they would miss terribly if they were no longer around.

Traders have earned that enviable level of support and loyalty by going the extra mile, offering quality goods at sensible prices, taking customer service to levels that people really appreciate. And by treating people as individuals, rather than merely as 'footfall' (what a dreadful expression!).

We want to support businesses that make an essential contribution to community spirit and cohesion, with managers and employees who are genuinely part of the community, and who want to give something back where possible.

In these modern times every day is a shopping day. That being the case, there are just 62 of them left before Christmas. Let's make them 62 Keep It Local shopping days - and our communities will be so much better off as a result.

Geoff Martin, Editor

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