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Ripley Village Unites to Show Faith in Its Future Business

Published on: 5 Aug, 2020
Updated on: 5 Aug, 2020

Four of the five committee members of the new Ripley Business Association. Left to Right: Clare Porter, Emma Marshall, Lisanne Mealing (chair) and Andrew James (vice-chair)

By Martin Giles

A new business association is to “launch” Ripley. The idea is to combine all the businesses, organisations and events to promote the village and “champion everything that makes it such a great village to live in, visit and/or have a business in”.

Founder member Clare Porter said: “The concept evolved between Ripley business owners during lockdown and we have secured a grant from Ripley Parish Council to set up a website, www.DiscoverRipley.co.uk, among other things.

“We decided to create a formal Business Association, with a proper structure. There have been other attempts to have a village website and digital presence by individuals who lost interest and left the village without access to the online platforms. Now, with the Association and the full backing of the parish council, this will not happen.

“The official launch is this weekend, Saturday, August 8. Organisers intend to showcase all village businesses promoting and celebrating their new connections and advertising their new Association by decorating their premises with the association colours to display our village at its best.

Ms Porter added: “We need to make everyone aware that Ripley will have a new, exciting website, going live on Saturday, which will help everyone discover all aspects of the village plus the newly established business association.”

The Dragon interviewed Lisanne Mealing, a parish councillor and chair of the new Ripley Business Association.

What businesses operate in the village?

“Ripley has been blessed with many niche businesses and today still retains a guitar shop, a gallery, a chapel converted into a bridal shop, (Miss Bush Bridal), Nest for home interiors and a cafe, a village barber, Jamie Stevens Hair and Beauty Salon, and Il Santo, also a hairdresser. In the heart of the village we also have Richardson’s which once housed motorcycles and flowers but now offers unique gifts as well as flowers and plants.

“We are fortunate to have historic pubs and coaching inns, such as The Talbot Hotel (famed as a popular overnight stop-off for Nelson’s coach on his way from the Admiralty to Portsmouth), The Half Moon, The Ship Inn, a historic and very traditional pub, and The Anchor, once well-known as “The Mecca for Cyclists” and now a Michelin Bib Gourmand pub and restaurant. Across the road, there is the award-winning Pinnock’s Coffee House who also serve great food and cakes.

“We also a prize-winning B&B, Broadway Barn, in the middle of The High Street. Lastly, of the smaller businesses, but housed in a splendid Georgian building, the Clockhouse Restaurant holds a Michelin Star. Our larger retailers are One Stop and The Co-op.”

How many village shops are closed?

“We have four empty premises on the High Street. Our latest closure was Lloyd’s Chemist which merged into Horsley branch, at the beginning of March, just before lockdown. So now we have a prominent corner-shop unit at Rose Lane on our High Street up for let.

“A couple of doors down, a lady who owned a designer used ladies clothes shop died. She had lived in the flat above, so this property is up for sale, as well as the lease for the hairdresser next door which she also owned.

“On the opposite side of the road, Connisbee Butcher to Retail and Restaurant went into administration at the start of the year. This property is looking for a new occupier.

“And we will shortly lose Jo Downs Glass (at the end of August) because their lease is not being renewed and it is likely the site will be developed into flats with some retail space below but on a much smaller scale.”

What has been the public reaction so far?

“The reaction has been limited to those participating, largely as owners and residents. Our launch leaflets have only recently been distributed and there is a great deal of pride because the parish council has provided funding to help maintain the vibrancy of our High Street. As a village with no station and limited public transport, we have a community ready to use what we have.”

How many members?

“We have 24 businesses signed up with a list of approximately twice this we hope will join. We are also forging close links with the various community organisations such as The Bonfire Committee and Ripley Farmers’ Market, as well as The Church and The Cricket Club.”

What about the new website?

“Our website launches this weekend and working with Facebook and Instagram will help us to boost the online presence of our village and community.”

How much do members pay?

“We will pay £20 a month and for this in addition to the above, we also intend to provide training and other services for the business members.”

What do you see as Ripley’s unique selling point?

“As a place to live, Ripley is historical and vibrant, with a thriving community and a strong parish council to support it.

“There are many challenges, such as the closure of the primary school, that threaten the infrastructure but there is also a strong voice among old and new residents as we defend the services we need as a community, including the Friends of Ripley Primary School, Ripley Coronavirus Support and hopefully soon, a Community Land Trust.

“We have many charitable and voluntary organisations in our village along with a deep love and respect for our surroundings and the people and businesses at its heart.”

Cllr Colin Cross

Ripley’s borough councillor Colin Cross (R4GV) added: “This has been a fantastic effort by our village organisations to unite and overcome the hugely negative effects of the pandemic on all types of businesses locally.

“Ripley has a tradition of hospitality from the days when its fame was as a coach-and-horses stopover on the London to Portsmouth route and later as a Victorian cyclists’ Mecca.

“It is returning to these roots again from which it is rebuilding its future, bigger and more varied.”

 

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