By regular ConservativeHome reader, Henry Mayhew.
David Cameron's vision of localism was given a boost in London last week as 150,000 free Wedge local shopping reward cards were posted to residents of Kensington & Chelsea by the Conservative-run council. I've always held a candle for the outstanding leader of RBKC, Merrick Cockell, but this scheme is brilliant. Founded by Diana Bird, daughter of John Bird of the Big Issue, it gives us K&C residents a card in our hand and invites us to register online at wedgecard.co.uk. Here we can bang in our postcode and search locally for all the wonderful independent shops that exist in the borough, offering superb organic foods and drinks, fashionable clothes and furnishings, books, entertainment and everything the with-it man, woman or child might need or covet.
The genius of this scheme is that the searchable database tells us what there is, where it is and then chucks in a decent discount to get us to go out and sample. Clicks and mortar. But, as one of my clients says, ideas, schmideas. RBKC, working with Ms Bird, has taken the crucial step of mailing out 150,000 of these cards and a link to the website, to us deserving local residents. Think about that number for a second, all within the five square miles of the Borough. That is a hugely powerful promotion for local, diverse, green, trade, at a cost per card to the council of 75p.
I know there's a lot of jealousy about fatcats (some of it from me probably) and moans about the strength of our council's financial position (ie apparently it's too strong) but don't you think this is a great public-private idea? If you want a card yourself for a measly £10 as a non-resident, sign up here. I'm off shopping so I'll see what you think later but don't take my word for it, this is what fellow resident Mr D. Cameron has to say on it:
'I'm a big fan of the Wedge Card and I'm delighted it's coming to Kensington & Chelsea. We all know how much our small shops bring to our local areas. They help to shape the character of the communities we know and love. But the trouble is that while we all value our local shops and complain when we lose them, too often we forget to use them ourselves. That's why the Wedge Card is such a fantastic, practical idea. The local card'holder wins because they get all sorts of discounts. The local shopkeeper wins with the extra business the cards bring in. And local communities win, because the cards help to keep our streets alive with small, independent businesses. I wish the Wedge Card every success.'