Some of your views on Ham&High's Keep It Local campaign

I LL BE KEEPING IT LOCAL THIS CHRISTMAS I FOR one have definately decided to eschew the delights (or perhaps the perils) of the new Westfield shopping palace in favour of supporting our local shops in the Hampstead and Highgate areas. I m not sure

I'LL BE KEEPING IT LOCAL THIS CHRISTMAS

I FOR one have definately decided to eschew the delights (or perhaps the perils) of the new Westfield shopping palace in favour of supporting our local shops in the Hampstead and Highgate areas.

I'm not sure I'll get everything I want, but at least I won't have to suffer the dreaded Shepherd's Bush traffic jams and pay through the nose for the privilege of having my car parked for me when I eventually do manage to reach my destination. There are so many great shops in the area but I agree entirely with your editor's sentiments that in these cash-strapped days, it's a case of use them or lose them.

As you rightly point out, these small shops really do enrich our lives and we would miss them terribly if they were gone. Really, it's up to us to ensure their survival!


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FELICITY french

Mansfield Road, NW6

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NOT IMPRESSED BY FRENCH INVASION

I wholeheartedly support and welcome your campaign to Keep It Local. However, I hope this means that you will oppose any future plans to site a so-called French Market in the area.

It was fun and exciting, but I couldn't understand why we needed a French market, especially as we have wonderful local shops, a good Farmers' Market in Swiss Cottage and we are all conscious of the need to buy produce that is local, fresh and seasonal.

In my opinion the market was rather tacky with loud music and fairly unexciting products such as quilts, fabrics and toys which were very average, cheap handbags and revolting sweets which were decidedly inferior and charcuterie, crepes, wine and cheese which are easily obtained locally already.

From now on I will certainly be even more aware of where I am shopping and making an extra effort not to go outside the area. I am already planning to do my Christmas shopping as locally as possible and will not only support our local businesses, but relax and enjoy what can be a chore.

DEIRDRE YAGER

Glenmore Road, NW3

LOCAL SHOPS NEED TO LEARN TO HELP THEMSELVES

For some time I have been intending to comment on the continued campaigns for keeping local business alive in Hampstead. I would like to say here first and foremost, I am all for keeping and using local business wherever possible - a big factor in moving here four years ago. There is a 'but' however.

This is a two way street and the local businesses have to do something to help themselves as unfortunately, most have an attitude that stinks and an air about them that they are 'owed' a living.

In any sales environment you cannot ever assume or expect sales to come - you have to work at it and adapt. If what you are selling is not attractive and is not relevant, it won't sell.

A good example is the King William 1V public house. Two years ago this was a flea pit, for want of a better description, which was very popular nontheless but now, it is still a key part of Hampstead life offering diverse people a whole range of services in pleasant surroundings after good investment and attention to what today's customers want.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of Hampstead businesses do not think like this. There are places where staff look down their nose at you - you almost feel like you are intruding. Some are as miserable as sin and are open at inconvenient hours (we are not a village of housewives who shop by day!).

People do not go to Tesco because they want to - they go because it is the only place open at 7pm when a good number of people come home from work.

The delicatessen on the Heath which blamed M&S for its demise did that all by themselves selling over-priced produce in a grotty little shop. I could go on. Rags such as the Hampstead Voice do not help (they hate people like me who do not have the 'birthright' to live here. I am afraid local business has got so far up itself that it is making itself disappear.

The solution sits firmly with the local business people. If they were relevant for today's local population they wouldn't have a problem. They need to get a grip and make people want to use their services - they would all see a huge difference!

Andrew Birnie

Gayton Crescent, NW3

COUNCIL IS ADDING TO PROBLEMS FOR SMALL FIRMS

The Ham&High with its Keep It Local campaign launched in last week's edition, and Cllr Chris Philp (Small traders are at the heart of our local communities, H&H October 30) are to be congratulated in campaigning in support of local businesses.

One of these is small building firms and we have seen much work done by local tradespersons in the borough.

However, in April the council raised the fee for parking permits for builders from £9 to £33 per day. This is in effect a tax on small businesses and works out at £165 per week per builder.

In July I wrote to Councillor Mike Greene, Camden Council's executive member for environment, and was told ''we are looking at how we might be able to offer some relief and we will be able to announce proposals over the next few weeks.''

The fact that no such relief has appeared in over three months perhaps indicates the extent to which the present administration supports, in practice, one important part of our local businesses.

MR Farrant

Oak Village, NW5

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