Open Email to the Editor, New Bispham Road Sainsbury’s

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Open letter to the Southport News Editors (14/02/2014)

In November 2013, Bispham Road area residents received a letter from Sainsbury’s outlining their intention of “submitting a planning application to Sefton Borough Council to convert 143-149 Bispham Road, Southport into a Sainsbury’s Local store”. Local traders, on receipt of this letter, were extremely concerned – not least as the proposed store would be in direct competition with several of the newer and therefore more vulnerable businesses in the immediate area.

I contacted Cllr Lord Fearn, the representative of the area, and asked if it would be any use if we were to muster a petition. We were openly advised that there could be no guarantee that this would have the desired effect, but given the strength of feeling in the local area, there would, be no harm in trying. A very supportive Cllr Lord Fearn agreed with and gladly presented the petition of over 600 signatures on behalf of the petitioners at a meeting of the Planning Committee on Tuesday 5th February 2014. Following an excellent speech in support of the local community by Lord Fearn, we were informed that there had been no objections to the so-called application for the change of use from offices to retail making the petition valueless. We have learned, since the initial contact from Sainsbury’s, that the premises are entitled to accommodate a request from any potential trader – which begs the question as to why Sainsbury’s ever felt the need to inform locals of their application.  Furthermore petitioners present at this meeting were patronisingly informed by Cllr Tony Dawson that the councillors weren’t there to vote on the petition and that perhaps we should have sought advice from local councillors prior to submitting it.

Correct me if I’m wrong Cllr Dawson, hasn’t Cllr Lord Fearn been a council representative for 50 years?

It has further been suggested to me that if the store fails to do the expected business in the first twelve months it would be closed, exactly what happened in Eastbank Street. The damage that will likely be done to these fledgling local businesses in the meantime will be of no concern to them; their priority seems only to be to compete with Tesco who run a One Stop shop on Bispham Road.

Once more local business will suffer from the ‘big boys’ doing battle for no other reason that the fact they can – they might be able to throw money away but a small local trader who has ploughed all of their money and energy into their businesses cannot.

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