There has been a twist to our story published two months ago (COTTON BAGS FOR WHITCHURCH) when we heralded that all households were to receive a free cotton bag as part of the SEEDA grant to the town.

The £3000-plus project was one of several being run by Working4Whitchurch along with a number of other initiatives originally planned to benefit the town, ranging from the now closed Business Centre to the provision of a business brochure and map.

A single sample bag is all Whitchurch Association have seen.

Decorated with a design by Whitchurch Brownies, the cotton bags were to be available from local participating businesses, both enhancing trade for local retailers and providing support for environmental issues. An edition of the W4W ‘Update’ newsletter, containing a coupon to obtain a bag, was promised for distribution to all residents during July – but it never appeared.

Many Angered
In a move that has angered and exasperated many, Working 4 Whitchurch have been holding the bags for some considerable time having failed to deliver them.

Despite several requests to return them for distribution, W4W have steadfastly refused to pass them back to the Whitchurch Association, the town’s charity now overseeing the completion of the projects. The matter has had to be referred to the police.

For many months the residents and businesses of Whitchurch have been denied the benefits of this project, requiring the Association to commence making plans for the delivery with the help of volunteers and local groups.

A bizarre twist
Then in a bizarre twist, W4W suddenly claimed on their privately run website this weekend that they were now to deliver the shopping bags. Mr Phil Cooper of W4W who runs the site has been asked to explain but has so far failed to comment.

With alternative plans already underway, businesses and retailers are informed that W4W are no longer involved in any of the town’s SEEDA-funded TCIP initiatives and that should they be approached, W4W are no longer authorised to act on behalf of this funded project.

Below is the official statement from the Whitchurch Association, the body now tasked with seeing to completion the Town Centre Improvement Projects.
Note that it also refers to two other projects that the W4W have claimed to be implementing.

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STATEMENT FROM WHITCHURCH ASSOCIATION

“Working 4 Whitchurch have announced on their website that they will shortly be planting bulbs, installing brackets and distributing shopping bags free to residents, decorated by the Whitchurch Brownies and paid for by the SEEDA grant money.

Whilst it’s great to see that some gateway bulb planting is in the pipeline, this won’t be funded by any SEEDA money, nor will the bracket installation, as this has now been all accounted for.

Working 4 Whitchurch do not own the cotton bags: the Whitchurch Association does, since Working 4 Whitchurch abandoned all its SEEDA-funded projects. Working 4 Whitchurch have repeatedly been asked to return the bags and the police have now been involved.

The Whitchurch Association is working with residents and businesses to deliver the bags as part of an overall business-focussed green initiative, which has been significantly delayed due to this action.

Retailers are asked not to distribute any bags they receive from Working 4 Whitchurch, or any printed material provided with them.”
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