Since the New Year, improved facilities and shopping in the commercial centre of the village have been far from encouraging, what with the closure of Barclays Bank. As to its future our enquiries have so far drawn a blank and, at the time of going to print, it is still a question of “watch this space”.
In early February, there was a ground floor fire in the Queen Victoria which, after extensive renovations is likely to reopen around mid April. Check the blackboard outside for regular updates of progress. Then comes the imminent closure of Filf Surf shop in the lower High Street, which is relocating to Brighton and here again we are awaiting news of the new tenant, which is currently under negotiation. Yet another casualty is CC Boutique, the ladies dress and accessory shop next to the Co-op, which Clare McMahon has sadly decided to close at the end of March.
The most alarming and significant prospect is the imminent closure of St. Aubyns School in the summer, where the Headmaster has tendered his resignation for pastures new. It seems that the Cothill Educational Trust has been unable to find a suitable replacement, but at the same time admits to unacceptable growing financial losses. The main building itself is protected, being within the conservation area, but the large playing field behind is not. However, the “Friends of St. Aubyns”, together with a number of knowledgeable and influential individuals, are fighting for its survival and it is understood that a number of possible solutions are under consideration.
Finally, Smugglers Fish & Chip Shop in the lower High Street has been completely redecorated inside and out and the new tenant is David Bishop who can be contacted on 390477, for advance orders. Also Richard Payne, father of Gary Payne who runs Handy Hardware in Marine Drive has yet to formally open his antique emporium in Nevill Road, and those passing by will notice a growing array of unusual and expensive antiques from all parts of the world adorning the premises.