I remember when I first moved to Cottingley in the late 1970’s as a child. The local shops separated the two halves of the estate and were used by everyone. There was a family run post office/newsagents run by Jackie Parker as well as a laundromat and local butchers. Back then there was no Aldi five minutes walk away and no White Rose mall within thirty minutes walking distance. Everybody used these local facilities. I remember feeling very grown up when my mum would give me money to go to the shops to buy something. The shopkeepers would always have time to chat to you and no matter the time was you always felt safe walking home.
Fast forward 30 years and it’s a different story. I have probably used the local newsagents maybe a handful of times in the last 10 years and it must be longer than that since I went into the grocers. My son will walk to Sainsburys rather than go to our local shops. So why is this?
A few months ago I’d got off the bus at the shops and gone into the newsagents. I can’t even remember what for now but the first thing that struck me was the amount of young people sitting at the bus stop watching my every move. I have no problem with teenagers, I know there aren’t always enough things to keep them occupied but it’s still off putting. Then I went into the shop. It was dark, it was dingy and it smelled. I know the owners have been there many years and on the plus side it was nice that after many years of avoiding the place they still knew my name and face. But I couldn’t escape the fact that it looked like it needed stripping out entirely and starting again with a mop, bucket and coat of paint. I can’t see me going back there again any time soon.
As for the grocers, I don’t remember ever having a problem with them. I think where I am concerned they can’t compete with supermarkets and online shopping. I shop monthly and online and only buy the essentials like bread and milk when I need them. I work practically next door to an Asda Express so when I can get goods cheaply there why should I pay more money somewhere else? You could say I should support my local shop but when money is tight and every penny counts then sometimes you have to go with chain stores.
I think my biggest bug bear with the estate shops is the lack of Post Office. We’ve had one – twice I think now – but the last one shut down many months ago after being ram-raided and has yet to re-open. I’m not sure who is responsible for fixing this. I know the ladies of the TRAC (Tenants & Residents Association Committee – forgive me if I’ve got the full title a bit wrong) are constantly trying to do something about it and I applaud them for that. I know petitions have been signed to get it re-opened. For me, it’s not so bad. Again I have a Post Office quite near work. My son is fit and healthy and will walk to Beeston to post a parcel but why should he have to do that? What happens to those that can’t walk that far? I think the estate is far too big to not have a post office of it’s own.
I think there is a massive need for improvement to the Cottingley shops. Some need modernising, the post office needs re-opening. But it’s not all doom and gloom. It was nice to hear about was the local take away being taken over by local residents. Originally a fish shop before someone tried to turn it into as pizza shop, it’s now back to how it used to be with, I’m told, real chips! I haven’t been in to try it yet but I’m looking forward to a taste test real soon.
This article was written by Kirsty White using our Community Reporters website