IF YOU haven’t already received one, a yellow Carnoustie shopping survey form will be dropping through your letterbox any day now.
The brainchild of Carnoustie Business Association, which is concerned about the number of empty shops in the town and recent failures, it is intended to discover what people want and need in Carnoustie.
Supported by Carnoustie Community Council and the new Carnoustie Development Group, the survey will be used to create opportunities for existing shops and entrepreneurs to start new business based on real information.
The survey forms are being delivered to every house in Carnoustie by the Boys’ Brigade and the Scouts.
The whole exercise - printing, distribution, and analysis - is being funded by the economic development unit of Angus Council following a meeting between Councillor Helen Oswald, David Valentine, head of the development unit, and Peter Burke, chair of the CBA.
Mr Burke said: “This is the opportunity for everyone in the town to tell us what they want in the way of shops, and when they want them to open.
“Large out-of-town supermarkets are all very well but they are time consuming and expensive to get to, often not as competitively priced, and certainly not as friendly and knowledgeable as small independent shops.
“Once the results are in we will be working with Angus Council to encourage landlords and owners of empty shops to offer their premises at reduced ‘starter’ rents to encourage new businesses in the town.”
Local councillor Helen Oswald said: “I had a meeting in January with the council’s head of economic development and Peter Burke when we all agreed that something needed to be done to revitalise the High Street.
“During this meeting, it was decided that a first step should be to canvass the residents on what they would like to see in their High Street and plans were set in motion to get funding for a survey of all households.
“I am glad this is now coming to fruition and urge all residents to complete their surveys as we can use these results to help existing businesses and encourage new businesses to come to town.”
Councillor Brian Boyd added: “As a committee member of the CBA I am glad to assist them in this initiative. Once we see the results we can publish them then potential businesses will hopefully open up along our High Street.
“Behind the scenes I will be lobbying the new Scottish Government to increase council rates for empty properties to bring them in line with England where these landlords pay 100 per cent whereas in Scotland it is only 50 per cent.
“I feel that if absent landlords are penalised fully for just sitting on empty assets, leaving them as eyesores, this will encourage them to actively find tenants and, of course, have to reduce the rents they charge accordingly to encourage this.”
Councillor Peter Murphy commented: “The survey has been on the go for some time now. I am pleased that the CBA has tried to tackle the problem of keeping a healthy range of shops in the main streets of the town by doing such a survey and highlighting the need to encourage new shops by making sure that rentals charged by landlords are kept to a minimum.
“The publicity seems to have had a marked effect on the problem to the extent that in the past few months quite a few new shops have opened.
“These include a new computer shop formerly at Panlathy Mill Farm, a motorcycle shop in the former Dog Grooming Shop, a new Indian take-away in the former paint and decorating shop and a fancy goods shop in the former Harbour Gallery which has moved into new and salubrious premises on the other side of the High Street, which was formerly a paper shop.
“In addition, the former butcher’s shop – Stewarts – which closed down in January of this year creating a lot of dismay in the town, was immediately taken over by the well-known butchery firm, Ewarts and is doing exceptionally well.”
He continued: “This fairly sudden improvement in the shopping situation in the town, that may well have been sparked off by the enterprise of Carnoustie CBA , will hopefully lead to further improvements in the shopping situation in the town.”
Mr Valentine added “This is the sort of activity we encourage in all Angus burghs and are delighted that the CBA is leading the way in such a positive fashion.”
Households are encouraged to complete the form and return it either through the post or pop it in to any shop on the High Street by the end of June.
Further copies are available at the Fobel Shop on Park Avenue, and Internet wizards can complete the survey on www.angusahead.com/carnoustieshopswww.angusahead.com/carnoustieshops .
Those who wish can enter into a free prize draw for a ￡25 hamper from The Granary, funded by the CBA.
Once the results are collated they will be announced in the Guide & Gazette and on relevant websites, and interested parties will be informed.