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Buy local, think Gloucestershire, keep moving. Do not stop

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 18 August 2020 7:00

Sometimes you listen to people whose challenge it so huge, who carry so much responsibility you wonder how they can ever win - and yet you leave them convinced they will never be beaten. 

These are the leaders among us. 

In private they may feel something very different, of course, but they know as a boss, as a spokesman for their industry, they must remain resolute. 

Moreton Cullimore is one such boss whose conversation with The Raikes Journal about the power of buying local could be pilfered by politicians looking for rousing lines in leadership.

The managing director of the Cullimore Group, which excels in the supply and transportation of aggregates, concrete, waste removal, transport, distribution and vehicle maintenance, exudes the kind passion and stoicism that is among the best British traits. 

And while he is at it, as a director of the Road Haulier Association, he is also campaigning for an overhaul of planning to force local authorities to accommodate truck-stops to keep his industry rolling. 

In an unfashionable sector facing not just economic challenges unparalleled, but staffing issues better roadside facilities will help tackle, he is an authentic and eloquent champion. 

A video posted on social media backs the national campaign to drive as many of us as possible to the Government website to put our names to a petition calling for the change to planning.

He acknowledges an Everest-size amount of education is necessary before a majority looks favourably on lorries on our raods and that it is top of mind that one licenced, regulated truck making one delivery is more efficient and sensible than the swarms of unregulated vans which support our on-line lust for next-day delivery. 

Some in-roads may have been made in lockdown, as the public began to appreciate what could happen if our logistics industry is not heard. According to the Government itself, 98 per cent of all our goods travel to store by road. 

It was at the start of lockdown that this face more familiar to road hauliers found itself a pin-up for the upsurge in calls to buy local. 

In a social media post he had asked why so many of us queued and fought our way down the supermarket isles when our county butchers, bakers and fruit and veg suppliers were around the corner with abundant stock and few customers.

“That single post struck a chord,” said Mr Cullimore. 

He had gone into Jesse Smiths, for food lovers a centre of excellence tucked away in Cirencester’s Love Lane industrial park. It handles meat from another family business, Cullimore Farms. And he had then gone on to Jolly Nice Farmshop & Kitchen, Frampton Mansell, Stroud.

“Both had a bountiful supply. I was 10minutes from a national chain where people were queuing, fighting, stressing, but at these two businesses – family businesses – it was quiet,” he said, recalling his bewilderment. 

He is pleased that during lockdown more people had since discovered the value of the county’s independents. 

“Long may that continue,” he said, not entirely convinced. 

It is sentiment and mantra of the mighty GFirst LEP (Gloucestershire's local enterprise partnership business group) with its Think Local campaign is pushing - with one eye on economic recovery and one on sustainability.

Mr Cullimore is well aware it would take an even bigger sea-change in our collective consciousness before his own sector – with its big heavy trucks often doing dirty work – is understood foremost as an asset. 

But he will tell you nevertheless that it is a family business, for 90 years, a relative mino in a sector ruled by multi-nationals whose loyalties are very different and who would gladly move in given the chance. 

In lockdown Cullimore Group proved quick witted and light of foot enough to ‘pivot’ like the most balletic, its staff even becoming an essential key workers as theydelivered instead goods to keep our supermarkets stocked. 

“When you are a person in my position, I think it is important to be as honest and positive as possible. 

We have just had some facts and figures which show the worst contraction in UK economy. That was obviously going to happen.We have not been trading normally, if at all, for the last three to four months before. 

We have some challenging times ahead. Our business has been through three generations, a world war, through recessions. I refuse to roll over,” he said 

I have grown up in a family business. My family has been in Gloucestershire for ever. It is our mantra that you must try to support other Gloucestershire businesses. 

Of course, you shop around, but you ask yourself first ‘who can I use from Gloucestershire?’. 

“We just have to keep moving. 

He added: “When I used to run – and I’m not built for long distance running – someone who was good at it told me that when you reach that dark place, that they call ‘the wall’ you have to face it and keep going - even if it is baby steps. 

“Twentybaby steps might be worth two of your usual strides, but you are still going forward, you are still making progress. And that is what it is like now. 

As we tried to warn you at the start - moving stuff.

First published August 18.