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Meeting will rally business community together after shock Lancaster bakery closure

The closure of Filbert's Bakery has rocked the business community of Lancaster

Members of the local business community rocked by a shock closure and the ongoing cost of living crisis will come together at a new regular support meeting in Lancaster.

A new initiative called 'Indivision' aims to bring business owners from the Lancaster and Morecambe District together during these difficult economic times.

The idea comes from the team behind Totally Local Lancaster, a group formed to help Lancaster city centre businesses, initially during the Covid lockdown in November 2020.

Their Facebook page's numbers quickly swelled and the group, which champions the Lancaster area, now has more than 13,500 members.

After last week's shock news that Filbert's Bakery on King Street had closed with immediate effect, mainly due to rising and unmanageable costs, Paul Cusimano of Totally Local Lancaster spoke to Beyond Radio.

Mr Cusimano said that 'Indivision' aims to "form some sort of strategy on how to support, deal and protect our business community as a district".

The first Indivision (Independent Vision) meeting will be held on Thursday, May 16 at 5.30pm at 3-1-5 Health Club in Lancaster.

LISTEN to our interview with Paul Cusimano (pictured below, right, with Totally Local Lancaster colleague Bruno Buccelli)

"Last week was the sad news about Filbert's Bakery which is a phenomenal bakery," said Mr Cusimano, who runs Joseph & Co designer clothing shop on North Road.

"For them to close so suddenly was really impacting and there has been a massive outpour of support towards them."

The closure of Filbert's was announced last Wednesday, a statement on the firm's Facebook page saying: "The decision has been taken out of our hands by the rising costs and drop in sales that many small businesses are facing."

Read more: "Overwhelming support" as award-winning Lancaster bakery announces shock closure - Beyond Radio

Mr Cusimano said numbers of people signing up to attend the Indivision meeting had risen considerably since the announcement of the bakery's closure.

"What is also striking is that when the news came of Filbert's closing, how the number jumped of people who wanted to attend," he said.

"It's almost as if it's acted as a catalyst.

"I'm hoping by bringing people together it results in a couple of things, one being that businesses realise they're not in this alone.

"So far I've spoken to many businesses and they seem to think they are the only ones suffering. The minute you tell them, no, most businesses are suffering, most businesses have been subjected to increased costs, there's almost a comfort there for them. Seeing that they're not alone, there's a value in that.

"Then (we will) further explore what specific issues each business is facing and maybe try to form some sort of strategy on how to support, deal and even try to protect our business community as a district.

"Totally Local Lancaster is primarily about the Lancaster LA1 postcode but this we are opening up to businesses of the district. To me, Lancaster and Morecambe have a lot to offer and together we need to ride this one out."

Mr Cusimano also spoke about the future of car parking in the city centre, Totally Local Lancaster's successful Lancaster International Film Festival and more.

"We're just trying desperately to help," he said.

"It's about people coming together and being involved. We've got a fabulous city that's got so much to offer and it will withstand. It just needs that collaborative approach."

Indivision aims to help businesses affected by a massive increase in business costs, their customers' costs and their own personal living costs, as well as the rise in the National Minimum Living Wage.

If you are a business owner in the Lancaster and Morecambe District and would like to attend the Indivision meeting, contact the Totally Local Lancaster Facebook page, or Paul Cusimano at Joseph & Co or Bruno Buccelli at Buccelli's in Lancaster, or email team@totallylocallancaster.co.uk

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