STRAIGHT TALK: Time for chains to support Spalding Flower Parade

IS it time for the big businesses in Spalding – banks, supermarkets and ‘shed shop’ retailers – to get behind our Flower Parade?

And how about the pub chains? Few publicans had grounds for complaint on Saturday.

Someone once told me that the single day of the Flower Parade made more money for pubs than Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and the next best Saturday night of the year combined.

We’re living in clone town Britain with big multiples taking up acres of space on our High Streets and in edge of town retail and ‘shed’ developments.

But do their hearts belong here? They seem to think of serving head offices – corporate coffers – and not adding anything genuine or lasting to the quality of life for the people living in the places where they do business.

Week in, week out they are happy to accept money from us, the paying customers.

They give us something back by providing jobs – and our economy could not manage without them – but occasionally even this comes at the expense of small businesses disappearing because they cannot match low prices built on massive wholesale purchasing power.

Often big supermarkets allow local good causes to collect cash.

But this is just a token gesture and they are not spending their own company’s money.

They effectively provide a roof over the collectors’ heads while money comes from us.

Many supermarkets spend big bucks on star-studded TV advertising campaigns with the likes of Twiggy urging us to shop at M&S, Jamie Oliver telling us how to cook produce from Sainsbury’s and now Freddie Flintoff doing a big shopping trip with an army of kids at Morrisons.

The big banks are just as free with the bucks for big TV campaigns.

As a little girl living in Boston in the 1960s, my first memory of Spalding Flower Parade were the news pictures carried on local TV.

Floats were big and utterly spectacular. It was brilliant advertising for Spalding and the companies here, which in those days included High Street banks.

Traditionally, Geest always had the best float and it’s good to see the successor company, Bakkavor, has retained a link with the Flower Parade.

But Saturday’s event had just ten flower floats and two trailer floats. The street audience is certain to dwindle unless we put the real flower power back into the parade.

To coin a phrase, this is not simply a flower parade it is Spalding Flower Parade.

Come on Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, McDonald’s, Boots, Focus, Wetherspoon, Greene King, Halifax, LloydsTSB, NatWest, HSBC (you are the world’s local bank) and all – give us a little Xtra back.

You’ll get some benefit too from thousands more people on the streets seeing your name and TV coverage.