Swaffham trade body hails Shopappy launch
A new initiative, which aims to encourage shoppers to use independent shops in Swaffham, has been praised by a town business group.
More than 40 outlets have so far signed up to the new Shopappy programme, which was launched in the town centre on Friday.
But district council chiefs, who have funded the initial programme, have faced criticism after it was revealed they had spent thousands of pounds with giant firms like Amazon and Tesco.
The scheme allows shoppers to order goods from participating retailers online and collect them in store or from out-of-hours collection points.
The scheme, which is the first of its kind outside Yorkshire where the idea was pioneered, is being funded by Breckland Council across each of the district’s main towns for the first three years.
And Colin Mason, chairman of the Swaffham Trade Association, said it was a “no-brainer” for town shops to take part.
He said: “From the shop’s point of view, if you’re not on it, you should be.”
But a Freedom of Information request has revealed that, in the past year, Breckland Council spent close to £10,000 at Amazon.com and an additional £5,119 at Tesco.com.
In February alone, the council made 25 purchases from the online retailer, spending more than £1,000 on items including £2.91 on buying cable ties.
Labour group leader Terry Jermy voiced concerns about the figures at a recent council meeting and said the authority needed to lead by example.
He said: “I’m hoping raising this question will spur a bit of a culture change in the council. They have pledged to look into it, so progress is being made.”
A Breckland Council spokesman said: “We aim to use local traders whenever they can supply what we need at a competitive price, as we are mindful of making efficient use of taxpayers’ money.
“This was discussed at a recent council meeting and it was agreed the council would review its procurements to ensure this approach is being followed across the organisation going forward.”