A new independent traders group has been set up to help provide a voice for local business people in the town and help cut retail crime.
A meeting of the newly formed Sleaford Independent Traders Association was held on Monday evening at Sleaford Town Hall when all business owners, franchisees and their partners trading within the town were welcomed to attend the offical formation.
Both Mayor Adrian Snookes and NKDC Leader Richard Wright attended to pledge their support, and a core group of six will take things forward.
The association has been launched by Ken Hanslip, who runs Bellissimo Boutique dress shop in Sleaford Market Place with wife Wendy.
The idea came after spates of thefts and vandalism, but some independent traders found it too costly to join the police-backed Shopwatch scheme due to the cost of renting radios.
Mr Hanslip said he has leafleted every shop in the town: “So far we have got 30 members and the purpose is to really give a voice to the independent traders in Sleaford. so we can be part of the development in the town and deal better with local authorities and police should any issues arise.”
He said there was a feeling among smaller traders that Shopwatch cannot cater for their needs. He said: “The scheme is still active for the big traders like Boots and Sainsbury’s who have a set up that will support that. Independent traders tend to be an individual or with a partner and it doesn’t work.”
By coming together in an association it gave the small traders more ‘clout’.
A closed Facebook group has been set up open to members which can act as a forum and an alert system for all those shopkeepers who naturally have their mobile phones beside them anyway, helping to safeguard customers, staff and stock by issuing warnings about suspected shoplifters, burglars and vandals.
The group will also help anyone struggling to fill in crime reports to Lincolnshire Police.
Mr Hanslip said: “For a small shopkeeper the loss of £20 worth of goods can be a big deal. Police need to realise retail crime is not victimless - it affects small traders badly. We will establish a crime prevention group.”
He was hopeful of a good take-up: “We have such a good core of committed shopkeepers that we will give this a go.”
Aside from crime, he hopes the association will try to tackle the demise of the High Street. He said: “Sleaford needs to be seen as a safe, affordable and attractive shopping destination. It is about putting that heart back into Sleaford and shopkeepers are so passionate about increasing the footfall.”
Further information is available through the Association’s Facebook page or from Ken Hanslip on 07736 898251.