Emma Ellis is a 34-year-old mum of two, from Fareham. She is a teaching assitant, currently studying to become a full-time teacher
Walk through Fareham town centre and you’d be forgiven for confusing it with any other suburban town.
The sparse sculptures dedicated to Henry Cort in 1999 are the only distinguishing features of this copy and paste shopping destination.
Everywhere you look are the national conglomerates – Fareham boasts the same shops, the same charity shops and the same pub chains as everywhere else in the country.
But where are the local businesses?
We are not the same as the local industrial cities, we are a suburban town with suburban needs.
The closest you’ll get to a high-rise block in Fareham is the eye-sore that is the Civic Offices building.
This is supposed to be a market town, and in my mind’s eye that conjures up a twee, Midsomer-esque idyll, just without the murders. What’s happened to the local butchers or greengrocers?
Yes, we have Tesco, the one-stop-shop for all your grocery needs, but what about those who prefer a personal touch to their shopping rather than handing over their hard-earned money to a faceless corporation?
There is one jewel in Fareham’s crown, a local retailer that you will hear the people of Fareham wax lyrical about.
Just mention Soothills bakery to any of the locals and you will see a far away look in their eye while they remember their last treat.
But what support do we give to new local businesses now? Why are they so few and far between?
There is much talk about the now vacated site where BHS was.
If the Facebook forums are to be believed, most residents would like a Primark to go in its place.
But with a Matalan only a stone’s throw away in Collingwood Retail Park, do we really need another budget clothes shop?
Why not, instead, turn it into an indoor market for local businesses?
Fifty units could easily fit into the space, and if rent were divided equally it would make trading more affordable for local traders.
It’s about time that Fareham supported local businesses and gave them the opportunity to thrive.
Over the last few years, Fareham has been so driven to prove itself as up-and-coming that it has pushed local businesses down-and-out.