Sunday, 30 November 2008

Schweppes Abbey Well

I wrote back to Sanjay Guha of Coca Cola (Great Britain) following his comment on my Pop Goes the Weasel? blog entry:

"Many thanks for taking the time to consider my concerns and send me a response.

I take your points about maintaining local employment and the local base of the company, and I hope that the rationalisation process will permit this.

However you do not address my other concerns about the profit leaving the local economy. I base my comments on the work of the New Economic Foundation 'local multiplier 3' and other work which shows that money spent with locally owned companies contribute to the local economy more than money spent with multi-nationals.

Whilst investment from CCE may support local jobs, the fact remains that the loss of a 'head office' even of a small company from the area, and the region, will be reflected in a reduction in regional GVA - the main measure which Government is using to assess the progress of the region. I don't know whether you can arrange your profit centres to retain the profit from Water & Robson in the North East?"

and he has replied:

"Following our acquisition of the ‘Abbey Well’ natural mineral water source, I am now pleased to be able to share with you the details of Coca-Cola’s plans to develop the brand in the coming months and years.

"From early next year, water extracted at the Morpeth site will be available to consumers as ‘Schweppes Abbey Well’. By combining the track record of ‘Abbey Well’ as a quality natural mineral water, with the world famous, much-loved and iconic ‘Schweppes’ brand, we will give more consumers across Great Britain the chance to enjoy a high quality, British natural mineral water.

"As part of our sponsorship of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, ‘Schweppes Abbey Well’ will be one of the drinks offered at London 2012, meaning fans and athletes alike will be able to enjoy a range of drinks, including soft drinks, bottled water, juices and sports drinks during the games. ‘Schweppes Abbey Well’ will also be encouraging people to get active by offering them the opportunity to go swimming for free with further details to be announced next year.

"‘Schweppes’ has a history of nurturing other well established brands, including Rose’s cordials and Malvern English Water, to grow their sales and retain investment in their local communities. The ‘Coca-Cola System’ hopes to replicate this success in the Morpeth area, using the scale and ambition of The Coca-Cola Company to deliver growth and employment opportunities for local people.

"Now the deal is complete Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), the local employer, will be considering how best to integrate the ‘Abbey Well’ business within the company. At this stage, CCE does not have any plans or proposals regarding the best way to achieve this. The integration could mean job opportunities for many ‘Abbey Well’ employees, however we cannot rule out some job losses. As a responsible employer, CCE will consult fully with ‘Abbey Well’ employees before any decisions are taken.

"I would like to thank you for your reply to my earlier email and address your other concerns.
While ‘Coca-Cola’ may be a famous global brand, we are also very much a British business.
The ‘Coca-Cola System’ operates in many areas across England, Scotland and Wales and we have developed strong relationships with the local communities where we are present. We believe we have a responsibility to the local community and we want to continue to make a positive difference. This includes Morpeth.

"Abbey Well is being integrated into our business structure and I appreciate you may have concerns. However, the Abbey Well business will remain in Morpeth and we will invest in it for growth as Coca-Cola Enterprises, as the local employer, continues to bottle the water here. We firmly believe that our investment will help sustain and build on the success of key business in the North East in the long-term.

"Our contribution to local communities goes beyond our operations. We have our own community investment activities and local community sponsorships, as well as charitable donations, employee volunteering and the provision of in-kind donations.
I hope - and expect - this will be the start of a long and rewarding relationship between The ‘Coca-Cola System’, Abbey Well and the Morpeth community and I hope you will agree that linking the ‘Abbey Well’ brand with ‘Schweppes’ opens up many more possibilities and sets ‘Abbey Well’ on course for a very prosperous future. "


Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Pop goes the weasel?

I see that Waters & Robson - the local Morpeth firm selling (amongst other products) Abbey Well mineral water have sold up to Coca Cola. Even if Coca Cola keep the Abbey Well brand (and I guess that is what they are paying for), I don't think they'll see any reason why it should come from or be bottled in Morpeth - that'll be 80+ local jobs at risk as the 'rationalisation process' cuts in.

Of course, it is a privately-owned company, and the directors have a perfect right to sell their property - but I'd have said that Waters & Robson, in some way, also belongs to Morpeth. The business has been linked to the town for a century and more. I think there's an issue of loyalty here.

And even if Coca Cola keep the business in Morpeth - the profits will go out of the town, out of the local economy.

This is what I can't understand when people look for the 'big name' multinationals coming to Morpeth: Costa and Starbucks will threaten our local owned cafes, Subway is squeezing our local sandwich shops, Next, Timpsons, W H Smiths etc will all take business from locally owned shops - and (to my way of thinking) the challenge to our local independent butchers, bakers, delis and greengrocers are Morrisons, Tescos, Sainsburys and M&S - not the markets.

Sure the 'big names' may bring more people into Morpeth (though maybe not so many, if Bridge Street looks identical to any other high street) - but those people won't spend that much in the local shops, and though the 'big name' stores may 'create jobs', their profits will go out of the town - and jobs will be lost from the locally owned shops.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Five Years of Fairtrade in Northumberland

Last weekend (Sat 1st) – we had a ‘Celebration of Five Years of Fairtrade in Morpeth’ – remembering that Morpeth was the first Fairtrade town in Northumberland, being awarded the status in 2003.

It was a good turnout – with some 50 or so people from all over Northumberland – from Wooler to Wideopen. Hannah Reed came up from the Fairtrade Foundation in London, giving us a preview of their new ‘Tipping the Balance’ campaign to be launched in Fairtrade Fortnight (23rd Feb – 8th Mar) next year. Also a forewarning of the Great Banana Event on 6th-7th March….

Fiona Hall MEP came along and Denis Murphy MP thought he was coming, but his staff sprang a surprise birthday party on him. (Happy Birthday for last week, Denis!)

And the newly formed Morpeth Leos – the ‘junior Lions’ from KEVI – came along with some entertaining Fairtrade games and quizzes. I was disappointed that they didn’t do the promised facepainting though.

We collected ideas and suggestions for what might be done to promote Fairtrade further – and here’s a transcription of what people came up with:


* Raising awareness of fairtrade amongst young people – going into schools and running ‘fun’ events
* Can school ‘shops’ and canteens be fairtrade?
* Northumberland – a fairtrade county?
* Hadrians Wall – a fairtrade zone?
* T-shirts & badges to promote fairtrade
* Councils offer free advertising on website and in publications for local suppliers, sellers of fairtrade produce, including discount coupons for products
* Develop more of a website presence
a web-based Northumberland directory of Fairtrade outlets
* Get someone uninhibited on your committee


* Local Schools
* Target young people - a Morpeth or Northumberland Fairtrade Facebook group
* Why just young people? Try involving U3A
* Pegswood Parish Council to persuade all community facilities (Uniun Building, Welfare, Project Centre etc) to buy fairtrade tea, coffee etc from the local Co-Op
* The large supermarkets
* Cramlington Fairtrade Steering Group seeks support
* The new Northumberland unitary Council
* Organise a motion in support of Fairtrade to be passed in the month that the new council comes into existence (April-May)
* Parish councils – and the new clusters of parish councils (formerly known as belonging communities)
* The new town councils being created in Wansbeck & Blyth Valley
* Town-twinning people: working on Fairtrade promotion with “twin” towns in Europe and elsewhere
* Churches – together with their sister churches in other countries
* Bed & Breakfasts, Guest Houses, Hotels
* Development Trusts


* Have more gatherings to bring people together – twice a year?
* Cramlington: Photo-Opp of Manor Walks security manhandling fairtrade activist distributing fairtrade leaflets outside the mall
* Fairtrade fair led by young people
* Fairtrade Fortnight 23rd Feb – 8th Mar 09
* Launch of Fairtrade Foundation “Tipping the Balance” initiative
* Bananas! Fri 6th Sat 7th Mar
Banana world record attempt held at all Morpeth schools simultaneously! Perhaps Leos could co-ordinate?
Banana Tour: An inflatable banana or people dressed as bananas visiting shops and supporters in Morpeth/Northumberland
Which building can we dress up as a banana?
* Fairtrade Question Time in run-up to European Elections (June ’09)
Traidcraft may be producing national policy briefing


* Morpeth Leos
Leos are visiting 7-12 year-old youth group in Longhirst to talk about Fairtrade (and take the games with them)
* KEVI Student Voice
* KEVI Student International Relations Committee

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Planning Applications are in Season

Traditionally - developers like to bring forward major planning applications over the Christmas break - and this year looks as though we are in for a 'bumper crop':

Tesco say they will submit their planning application for a store up at Coopies Lane 'in December'. No sign of the Sainsburys application which was promised for May/June past, though. There is revised Government planning guidance on retail development ('PPS3') due out 'early in the new year' - so maybe that is determining submission schedules, as well as the transition to the unitary authority.

Novera hopes to submit their application for the Tod Hill wind farm (reduced from 6 to 4 turbines in the recent exhibition) 'by midDecember'

Network Rail is finally expecting to bring forward a planning application for their proposals for provide more car parking at Morpeth rail station 'before Christmas'.

And - further afield, RWE is expected to submit the planning application for the new so-called 'clean coal' power station at Cambois very soon. This will be determined by the Secretary of State, not local councils - though the rumour is that RWE are keen to get the application in before the shift to the unitary, because they think they'll get a more sympathetic hearing from Wansbeck DC

So - there shoud be plenty of paperwork to read through over the Christmas break!