Sandwich shop fears are hard to stomach
A WOMAN hoping to open up a sandwich shop says she has been "shocked" by the level of opposition to her plans.
Natalie Brayford wants to open the shop in Hanford to serve the community where she has lived all her life.
But more than 220 people have signed a petition against her idea, because they say there are already enough shops offering similar services in the village.
Objectors also say the shop would increase problems with parking and litter, result in more groups congregating in the street and would lead to police call outs.
But Miss Brayford claims the objections "don't hold any weight" and feels she is being targeted unfairly.
She said: "Some people have also said they are against it because they don't want the smell of food going over to their property, but I wouldn't be cooking anything on the site.
"It just seems like people are using anything they can find and throwing it against me.
"It's been an active business in the past and there are shops on either side, so I don't see what the problem is.
"I've been very surprised and baffled by the reaction from people."
If approved, the sandwich shop, which would be opened in a former tanning salon in Wilson Road, would trade from 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday, and 10am to 2pm at weekends.
Mother-of-one Miss Brayford, who lives in the same street as the shop, is currently unemployed, having worked behind the bar in a pub for her last job.
The 26-year-old said: "I want to earn an honest living, make a better life for me and my family, and put something back into the community.
"My idea was to sell good quality healthy and homemade food from the shop, and do things like smoothies and jacket potatoes.
"I thought this is something which would go down well in the area, but the opposition is starting to knock my confidence a little bit now.
"I've got a lot of ideas, like offering a catering service, and the shop would hopefully create jobs for other people in the future.
"People are saying there's already enough places selling food, but I wouldn't be doing this if I thought I couldn't offer something a bit more unique and make a success out of it.
"I thought new businesses were meant to be getting help in starting up, but right now it seems a very difficult thing to do."
Her partner, Rick Smith, who is self-employed, said: "It seems to be a lot of opposition over nothing.
"The shop used to be a tanning salon and had cars coming and going to it, and there are other shops in the street which attract cars.
"She's trying to do something nice for the community, but seems to be getting knocked down for it."
Miss Brayford's planning application to change the use of the building from a tanning salon into a sandwich shop is currently being considered by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
It is expected the plans will go before councillors sitting on the authority's development management committee within the next few months.