THE Kraft takeover has received mixed reviews from the residents of Bournville, since its move from former owners, Cadbury PLC, back in February 2010. Investigating what’s been happening and receiving feedback from residents, shop owners and local trusts, is the NewsWaves team.
Following a recent visit to Bournville, it was evident that views within the community were mixed, with many people believing that Kraft has had a detrimental effect on the area, with opposing views by others, arguing that there hasn’t been any dramatic change.
Since the beginning, when George Cadbury first opened his Bournville factory in 1879 and set about creating a ‘model village’, there has always been a strong sense of community in this quiet Birmingham suburb. With Cadbury being so focused on the wellbeing of their workforce, they provided houses for the workers, built recreational areas for sports and supplied them with communal areas for socialising.
Speaking with Louise, owner of ‘Louise of Bournville’, she said: “Kraft is currently looking at the global picture, they are probably planning behind the scenes what’s going to happen two or three years down the line and it will undoubtedly affect the people of Bournville. It’s a shame that this has happened, as Bournville was renowned for its community spirit and I believe it’s going to be exacerbated as time goes on.
She continued: “I don’t believe Kraft is focused on the community, or on bringing it back. I think the area is declining as the older Cadbury workers are leaving and a lot of them are dying, so much of the community sprit has dissipated as a result.”
In agreement with Louise, Christine, owner of ‘Christine’s Shop’ added: “As a former worker of Cadbury, I want to see it back; it was a family business for years and years since George Cadbury, where’s it going to end up now?
“I don’t feel anything has been done to sustain the community, they haven’t even said whether they’re going to continue to produce chocolate at Bournville, they haven’t committed themselves to any of that.”
As one of Birmingham’s largest leisure attractions, Cadbury World has seen over 8.5 million people walk through its doors. Despite the large amount of visitors, residents think there has been a decline in the amount of individuals actually visiting the village of Bournville, with many of them offering a different account of the Kraft takeover.
A local Bournville resident commented: “Visitors to Cadbury World, come in on the coach, leave on the coach and we never see them, so in terms of the local economy, I don’t think a great deal has changed in the year since Kraft has taken over, as shops are still there with no loss of trade reported.
“All the things that were originally set up by the Bournville Village Trust are still in place, such as the Bournville Society and that has had no direct effect from the Kraft takeover.”
As a primary figure in the community, Bournville Village Trust, founded also by George Cadbury in 1990, is one of the largest and most respected housing trusts in the country.
Speaking with Alastair Flint, Head of Corporate Services at Bournville Village Trust, he said: “Kraft have realised that Cadbury is more than a factory, there is a community within the workforce extending into Bournville.“The Trust believes Kraft is thinking about the future and wants to help Bournville residents feel connected to the company. Kraft appreciates the strong community that has been built in the area and they understand the need to reaffirm this feeling. Kraft is making efforts to preserve and enhance Cadbury and primarily Bournville.”