Lavenham: Foray into fashion for community council

A COMBINATION of council budget cuts and a need to be thrifty as a result of the economic downturn led to a fundraising idea for a local community council.

Earlier this year, Lavenham residents were faced with the possibility of losing several amenities after Babergh District Council announced spending cuts.

So members of Lavenham Community Council – the organisation that built the village hall in 2005 – started to think about innovative ways to raise cash to support local recreational activities.

This week, they opened a dress agency based in Water Street, called Village Gossip.

It operates like a normal dress agency, where people bring in clothing or accessories they would like to sell for a 50% cut of the profits.

But instead of the other half going into a commercial business, the cash will go to the community council. The organisation recently gained approval from the Charity Commission to widen its objectives.

Project manager Sarah Rands said: “The idea seems to have struck a chord with people and we already have 26 volunteers who have come forward to help run the shop.

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“We are in difficult financial times, so as well as raising money for the community council, it offers a good way for people to make a bit of cash from items they no longer want.”

She added: “Through the shop, we will also be running a back-to-work scheme for people who want to gain experience and skills, such as merchandising, credit card transactions and general retail.”

The community council has been given the first three months in the shop rent-free and furniture and fittings have been loaned by Sudbury firm C2, giving it a “boutique” feel.

Items stocked will tie in with seasonal themes and trends.