Retail Comings and Goings in Tameside, May 2020: The Ashton Review of Shops

This month’s quarantined window on the shop windows

Once again, this month’s edition of the Ashton Review of Shops will be an unusual one. This, for obvious reasons, is thanks to the Coronavirus situation which has affected our businesses as well as our shopping habits.

In spite of this, some of our High Street businesses have had to make greater use of online services and home deliveries. Which, if you try to log on to any given supermarket’s website, is harder than reading James Joyce’s Ulysses from cover to cover.

Reopening rumours?

At this time of writing, we have passed the peak in Coronavirus cases. Already, there is talk of national businesses wishing to reopen their stores, so long as social distancing measures are put in place.

So far, outspoken pub chief Tim Martin is hoping to reopen ‘Spoons houses by June. Greggs have toyed with the idea of reopening twenty branches, again with suitable social distancing measures. This proposal has been scrapped, obviously with the wellbeing of its staff and customers.

What is definite is that Timpson will be reopening its key-cutting shops. In Tameside, this covers Morrisons, ASDA and TESCO superstore branches, where kiosks are situated on the supermarket forecourt. So far, Tameside’s cohort of kiosks have yet to open. For further details, we recommend visiting the Timpson website’s Reopened Shops page.

What is also definite is that two eateries will be reopening on Ashton Moss. TGI Fridays and Five Guys will be offering a delivery only service from Tuesday (05 May). From the 04 May, KFC will be reopening 100 branches across the UK. Whether Tameside’s branches will be among the initial ton remains to be seen. The menu will be more limited and social distancing measures will be in place.

From the 13 May, McDonalds will be reopening fifteen branches across the UK, albeit on a delivery only basis. Like KFC, there will be a limited menu.

Sometimes, superheroes bring bakery products and roast dinners…

If you fancy a roast dinner though lack the time and wherewithal to cook one from scratch, you could give Sizzlers Catering a call. With their core business affected by COVID-19, they have started offering their delights to time-pressed households. Discerning households that are more accustomed to restaurant quality Sunday dinners instead of insipid oven ready options.

They offer a wide range of main courses, puddings and desserts, and starters. All of which delivered to your door and ready to serve. Payment can be made with a contactless credit and debit card, bank transfer, or your Paypal account. You can order via their Facebook page (through a message on Facebook Messenger) or give them a call on 0161 344 1616. For a Sunday dinner, you will need to order by Saturday lunchtime at the latest. (In other words, no later than 12pm on the day before you tuck in).

If you prefer something lighter, yet sweet, Carrie’s Cupcake Kitchen is worth checking out. If you visit the Facebook page, there is a delightful selection of Ms. Baulk’s baking. As well as bespoke designs, Carrie also offers variety packs of handmade cupcakes. On message with the times, we think her wares for Tameside Hospital staff and key workers battling the pandemic are superb.

For a special teatime treat, her cupcakes are priced at £10.00 for six. Or £20.00 for twelve. Delivery rates are £3.00 to any address in Tameside, or £5.00 for any address in Greater Manchester.

Coronavirus Grant Support Funding

Do you need some extra help to cover the lockdown period? HM Government is offering two types of grants for small to medium sized businesses. If your concern pays business rates and receives Small Business Rates Relief (or Rural Rates Relief), you will be eligible for a £10,000 grant from The Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF). Please note this grant covers businesses that were trading on the 11 March 2020. To qualify, your business also needs to trade from its own premises.

Of particular interest to our borough’s pubs and cafés is The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF). If your business has a rateable value of £51,000 or less, the maximum grant available is £25,000. If your business’ rateable value is £15,000 or less, the most money you can apply for is £10,000.

For further information, visit Tameside MBC’s Coronavirus Business Rates Recovery page. You can telephone them on 0161 342 2233 or email them via businessrates@tameside.gov.uk. Please note that you can only apply for one grant per property that you own or lease (which is also known as a hereditament).

TAC Tales

In spite of the lockdown, more progress has been made on the construction of Ashton-under-Lyne Bus Station Mark IV. Everything augurs well for a summer opening date.

Forthcoming Planning Applications

Polite Note: for reasons of brevity, any pub and club applications come under the Pub and Club Update section. Aye thank you…

  • The fate of the former Reporter office on Acres Lane, Stalybridge could be sealed. Earlier last month, plans have been submitted for its conversion into a twelve dwelling House of Multiple Occupation.
  • There could be a new internally illuminated advertising display on 107 Astley Street, Dukinfield. This would be placed on the gable wall opposite McColls. More of the same is proposed on 60 Ashton Road, Hyde.
  • The Ashton-under-Lyne branch of NatWest could lose an outdoor cash machine. In its place would be a temporary advertising sign.
  • Self-contained apartments could be the future fate of 257 Stockport Road, Guide Bridge. The office premises has seen a variety of light industrial uses and had at one point been offices for Prestcold refrigeration. Plans have been made for eight dwellings on three floors.
  • Deshopification awaits the Droylsden Pigeon Corn Supplies unit on 99 Manchester Road. Plans have been put in for its conversion to an eight dwelling House of Multiple Occupation.
  • The same fate awaits 44 Lower Market Street, Broadbottom, where a plumbers’ office could become two dwelling houses.
  • A former branch of Ladbrokes on 92 Market Street, Hyde, could become a 40 – 50 seat restaurant. Its aim is to offer healthy food, opening at times best suited to customers wanting lunch or an evening meal.

Retail Movements

Nothing to report, apart from TGI Fridays and Five Guys reopening on Tuesday for delivery only orders. As always, feel free to comment.

Pub and club update

There has been little to report, obviously with our pubs being closed. Through these torrid times, some hostelries have offered a home delivery services. Others have chosen to praise our key workers, with The Lodge Hotel in Dukinfield being one example.

For our key workers, The Lodge Hotel delivered free of charge to Dukinfield Ambulance Station several tubs of homemade style chilli-con-carne with rice. From someone who knows how good The Lodge’s food offerings are (courtesy of the Tameside Quiz League), they were in for a treat.

With the ‘bricks and mortar’ pub being in suspended animation, this has seen the rise of online-based quiz nights. Inglenook Taverns, the Pubco that manages the recently refurbished Top Astley (The Astley Arms by Old Chapel) have organised weekly online quizzes. The next one is today, starting at 5pm via The Top Astley’s Facebook page.

Moving considerably some distance away from Dukinfield, the online pub quiz has caught on in a big way. One quiz master, Jay, a former pub landlord in Darwen, has been getting over 170,000 viewers for his live quizzes on YouTube. His channel is The Virtual Pub Quiz. As well as live Quiz Nights, he also has a few not-live specialist quizzes to prepare you for his fifty-question Thursday quiz.

*                     *                    *

Next Month:

Our next Ashton Review of Shops will be out on the 06 June 2020 at the usual time of 9am. Which, if this blasted virus didn’t arrive, would be the Saturday after the Whit Friday Brass Band Contests. As always, feel free to elaborate on our observations or add a few more to the mix. You know it makes sense, even in such ‘interesting times’.

S.V., 02 May 2020.

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