Local firms claim UCS 'snub'

UNIVERSITY Campus Suffolk has been accused of snubbing local traders in a new initiative for staff.

Lizzie Parry

UNIVERSITY Campus Suffolk has been accused of snubbing local traders in a new initiative for staff.

On Monday UCS will launch a package of initiatives for employees including a scheme to encourage people to cycle to work.

However, it gives staff the opportunity of discounts on bikes at national chains - so yesterday all independent cycle retailers in Ipswich joined forces to stage a protest in front of the flagship UCS building on the town's waterfront.


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They claim the decision to team up with the contractor using national stores like Halfords to offer staff discounts of up to 40% off bikes rather than independent cycle shops was “a bad decision”.

Steve Grimwood, of Elmy Cycles, said he felt local businesses had been denied the opportunity to offer a service to staff at UCS.

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“It's a real kick in the teeth, we offer a quality service second to none, combined with the other independent retailers in the town, customers have a choice to suit all needs and budgets,” he said.

“With the difficulties faced by everyone in these difficult financial times it is especially important to support local business to protect the local economy and jobs.

“I think it is a bad decision; I think they chose this option simply because it made their lives easier. They wanted an easy life rather than doing what's best for staff and local traders in the local economy.

“The university was built on the promises to involve the local community and that local people would benefit through business and jobs. The decision to snub local traders and offer its schemes through national retail chains flies in the face of these promises,” he added.

However, Brian Holder, sustainability officer for UCS, said: “UCS is trying to support local businesses and local people.

“We have no prejudice to national chains at all, we are part of the local community and we want to support it.

“We had initially intended to use a scheme with local bike shops but when we approached the staff benefits contractor we had to agree with them to alternate between schemes.”

Mr Holder said the current initiative for staff will include future discounts with local firms - the contractor organising the scheme has agreed to alternate the discounts between national and local stores every six weeks.

He also explained another scheme being promoted for students at UCS, specifically promoting local independent bike shops rather than national chains.

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