It was the most surprising moment of a long and important meeting.
For two hours, members of the area planning sub-committee had been discussing a proposal to alter one of York’s best-loved shops – when one member confessed: “I’ve never been in Barnitts…”
Cllr Tony Fisher’s revelation was met with differing reactions from his fellow committee members, as you can see in the video below.
Cllr Pete Kilbane’s eyes widened with incredulity, Cllrs Jonny Crawshaw and Chris Culwick both broke out into grins, while Cllr Denise Craghill’s brow furrowed in disbelief.
This is what Cllr Fisher told the meeting: “I think it’s vital that we do try and help city centre shops to survive.
“I’ve never been in Barnitts – I might be the only person in York who never has.
“But I understand there are many people who have a lot of happiness about the fact it’s surviving, and perhaps adapting and thriving.”
What are York’s must-sees?
What are the things every York resident must do at least once? We’re compiling a top ten! Let us know in the comments.
Councillors were discussing a plan to redevelop the old drill hall part of the shop as ten apartments. Managing director Paul Thompson says the change is vital for Barnitts to reinvest in its city centre retailing operation and save jobs.
The committee voted to defer a decision until they had an independent valuation of the development, so they can decide whether the scheme should make a contribution towards affordable housing in the city.
Chairman of the York Retail Forum Phil Pinder was stunned by Cllr Fisher’s confession.
“Barnitts is often referred to as York’s favourite shop. I’m amazed that anyone who shops in York can fail to have been in!” he said.
“So many little jobs around the home (or shop in my case) result in satisfaction from a trip to Barnitts.”
He compared never shopping in Barnitts as being similar to never having had a cake from Betty’s, or been inside the Minster – “or having had a drink in one of the many great famous bars like The Blue Bell!”
Phil added: “Cllr Fisher might be interested to learn of Barnitts’ great range of parrot coasters, I believe he has a passion for parrots!”