Gillingham Co-operative Travel set to close?

The Co-operative Travel

Sad news today that the Co-operative Travel in Gillingham High Street is set to close as part of Thomas Cook’s proposed branch closure program.

Kent Online’s Business Editor, Trevor Sturgess, is reporting that eight stores across Kent, including five under the Thomas Cook brand and three under the Co-operative Travel, are among 195 on the company’s nationwide hit list, with the loss of almost 40 jobs.

Whilst no business which is not performing would, in all good sense, remain open, this is an unfortunate loss to Gillingham High Street.

I could launch into a predictable analysis of how our High Streets are dying and how parking charges and business rates are to blame, but in this case I doubt that would be a useful exercise; people are still booking holidays, but how they book them is changing, which is a shame.

For me, nothing beats walking into a travel agency and talking to an actual person, who can understand what you want from your holiday and find the best package to suit your needs and budget.

My agency of choice was, in fact, the Co-operative Travel in Gillingham High Street where, for every holiday, I would speak to the same person and get the same quality, personal service every time. In short, I was never left disappointed by the result.

When, for practical reasons, I booked our group holiday to Spain last year through a well-known travel company’s website, it caused no end of problems – and left me wishing we could have gone to the Co-operative Travel where such problems would not have arisen.

When I am in a position to be able to book another holiday, whatever happens, I will do so via a High Street travel agency. I hope that that will be the Co-operative Travel, and if it has closed, then I will consider it to be a great shame.

But, either way, I’d much rather book my holiday face-to-face with a person who understands what I’m looking for and can make the process hassle-free.

Alan condemns NatWest decision to close A2 branch in Gillingham

Blogger Alan W Collins has condemned the decision taken by NatWest to close it’s branch on the Watling stretch of the A2.

After news emerged that the bank would renege on its own “Customer Charter” and close “the last bank in town” in July, Alan wrote on his blog that “[t]he continued withdrawal of NatWest services has left me angry and disgusted”.

Local businesses and NatWest customers alike have rallied against the move, which the bank has defended, claiming that the decision could damage the local community, in particular putting businesses at risk by removing passing trade.

Alan said: “When banks such as NatWest’s parent had to be bought out during the banking crisis, they lost the trust their customers had invested in them. To return to a stable and affordable footing sufficient enough for the government to release its shares in the banks, they need to rebuild that trust to existing and potential customers.

“Keeping banks open even when they are “the last in town” is a noble promise, and one which is important not just to local residents who may be unable to easily travel to the next closest branch, and thus rely on that promise, but also to the local community itself, generating extra trade for local businesses and supporting the local economy.

“Breaking that promise also breaks the trust that customers had started to re-invest in those banks. It puts less mobile residents at a disadvantage and risks the viability of local businesses.

NatWest cannot be forgiven for breaking their promise and putting the local economy, the local community, at risk!