At the June Hollingbourne Parish Council Meeting in the Cardwell Pavilion this evening Christopher Rudgard, proprietor of the Village Shop in Eyhorne Street for the last fifteen years, announced that he wished to retire in January 2020 at the age of 79. If this happens Hollingbourne will be left with no retail outlets except for a Barber’s Shop and the nearest shops for food, newspapers, the Post Office, and much more will be at least 3 miles away in Bearsted and Harrietsham.
Over the last few decades Hollingbourne has lost other shops including a full time Post Office, a garden centre, a café, a doctor’s surgery, and a Police Office. The village does continue to support three “destination” public houses including one which is in the Michelin Guide.
Despite declining sales for a number of years due to several factors including fewer newspapers and cigarettes being sold, changes in the demographic of Hollingbourne with more commuters, and an increase in online shopping with deliveries, the shop is a lifeline to many who cannot easily get out of Hollingbourne for many reasons including cuts to public transport including the bus service. It is also a point of social contact for many residents.
Mr Rudgard advised the Parish Council that the business was no longer viable as a commercial enterprise despite rent free accommodation from the landlord, Mr Paul Teague, and that the best way forward was as a Community Shop run by volunteers.
Hollingbourne Parish Council resolved to support any efforts to keep the shop going and decided to contact the Parish Council in Chart Sutton which has a successful Community Shop. Many Community Shops in rural areas are supported by the Plunkett Foundation and more information is at https://plunkett.co.uk/
If you are interested in becoming involved in the project please contact the Parish Clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org More information about the shop is available from Christopher Rudgard at Tel 880338. Further details to follow.
Also considered at the June Parish Council Meeting was the complaint that Mr Harry Barling had been listed as Mr Henry Barling on the new plaque on the Village War Memorial and on the new Roll of Honour in All Saints’ Parish Church. It was decided to correct the list of names who died in World War 1 from Hollingbourne.
Other matters considered at the Parish Council Meeting was the lack of response from Fernham Homes following complaints about the removal of a hedgerow at the rear of their Eyhorne Street development site during the nesting season at Easter. It was also decided to oppose their planning application to change the design of the four “more affordable” houses on the site from a terrace to two blocks of potentially more expensive semi-detached houses with a metre gap between them. No prices have been published for the development of twelve houses. The formal Minutes of the Meeting will be published in due course.
Pictured below is Christopher Rudgard in the Hollingbourne Village Shop.