22 January 2022
In praise of our local shops

James Cleverly writes for the Braintree & Witham Times.

High street shops have had a tough time during the pandemic. I’m proud that financial support from both central and local governments have helped businesses across Braintree, Halstead and beyond to stay afloat. Local businesses are the life-blood of our towns and villages. They create jobs, drive our local economy and are a visible sign of a healthy local community. This is something I am passionate about, so this month’s column is a love letter to our independent high street shops.

Feeling peckish on a stroll through Braintree? How about a coffee from Toast, or a shake from Shake Express, afternoon tea at the Glass House or something delicious from Baby Bakes? If you want to delight someone special, perhaps flowers from Fleurtations or Bernard Chapman or a gift from Fever Accessories, some vinyl records or pop-culture collectibles from Blast, or even a string of sausages from Beaumont’s butchers (it might be more their thing). The options for dinner and drinks are now boosted by Number 92, Mosaic and the Chop House, along with our core of pubs and bars.

Halstead was featured in the Daily Telegraph as a triumph with 73 per cent of the shops now being independent. An afternoon can be happily lost exploring homeware at Evans, Willow and Grey or Ispirato Interiors. A new spring outfit from Anouk, or Ruby and Violet, or Hardys menswear, or perhaps Black Valley Tattoo for something more permanent. There is also Retroformers or Toy Crazy for games, toys, models and other indoor pastimes, the wonderful Lobb’s Cycles for outdoor fun and the new Puppy Care Emporium which now fills the prominent position at the top of the hill.

I can’t name all the great shops we have on our doorstep and please flag the ones I’ve missed out. 

Braintree and Halstead are packed full of fantastic, interesting independent local shops.

If we don’t use them, we’ll lose them