A cold wind blows….

Today, another icy chill creeps across many high streets as Baugur, the retailing group from Iceland looks set to go into administration. It currently owns/controls a number of familiar names including Coast, Principles, Hamleys and House of Fraser (link).

Wyedale Garden Centres is also one of their assets and it’s a good job I am moving into the city centre (oops secret is out) as, at the moment, the local Wyedale garden centre is the only retailer within a mile of my house.

I am not privy to any information relating to the future of this particular retail brand but, from a purely personal point of view, loosing the garden centre would be a great blow to me and the rest of the people of Chadkirk.

One of its most unusual features is the miniature steam railway, which runs around its grounds, delighting children and many middle-aged men alike. It is a modern-day by-product of globalisation, that such a quirky, seemingly ‘unique’ place in the North West of England can be affected by what goes on in Iceland.

Iceland was one country that the financially unenlightened (i.e. me, Gordon Brown etc.) would never have thought could have such an impact of local places.

Not only does the news about Baugur cast even more of a shadow over many high streets and centres, many local authorities (123) face the challenge of getting nearly £1bn of money back from failed Icelandic banks.

Obviously, the loss of this money will have an impact on the level of service local authorities can provide, if not now, then in the future.

Perhaps we should be thinking about a standard for the word ‘local’, just like ‘organic’ has been given a specific interpretation by the Soil Association (and, well, to be honest a different interpretation by the EU…..but you know what I mean)?

Maybe a ‘local’ authority should be just that, investing and operating in a more locally favourably manner, investing funds into, for example, local credit unions rather than international financial institutions?

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