A shop local campaign has found itself at the centre of a heated debate, after being accused of being politically motivated.
Totally Locally Lindley has changed its name to Lindley Shop Local after the Totally Locally movement’s creator said that the group’s founder, Gemma Wilson, could not use the brand due to being a Conservative Party candidate.
Gemma, who has lived in the area for the last six months and will stand in the Lindley ward for councillor this May, said that she decided to launch the idea because she is ‘passionate’ about the area and that it bears no relevance to her political campaign.
Totally Locally founder Chris Sands responded sharply to the news that the group was using its free branding, after reading an article about its planned launch in the Huddersfield Daily Examiner. The marketing professional, founded the social enterprise four years ago to help independent retailers promote the value of shopping locally around Calderdale, an idea which has since spread to over 50 towns.
He said: “We give it (the branding) for free but it is on the condition that it is not political, not council led, or institutionalised and on the website it states (Gemma) cannot use the kit if she is a political person. The reason for this is that it would naturally bias the campaign towards particular businesses and customers. It’s designed to be run by local businesses, no matter what their personal political affiliation.
“It’s nothing against the Conservative Party, or any party, it’s just that it isolates people, and it makes it exclusive and we really fight against that.”
He also said that he was disappointed David Cameron had given backing to the campaign, without commenting on other Totally Locally schemes that have already been established.
Gemma, of Halifax Road, said: “I have never wanted to use the idea as a political tool, don’t think that the fact I am a councillor candidate has any relevance to it and I’m not doing it for my own drive; I just think it’s a good thing for the area. I am a local resident who feels passionate about the area I live in and wanted to do something to help support it.”
The scheme, which has gained the support of several businesses since launching in February, has now changed its name to Lindley Shop Local. “Everyone is happy to be under this new banner and we don’t want to get dragged down in this debate,” said Chris.
Several meetings have been planned to encourage more businesses to get on board. For more information on the campaign, follow @shoplindley or email firstname.lastname@example.org.