The Deeside Chronicle Campaign
The Deeside Chronicle April 1 1999 (And it wasn't an April Fool Joke!)
Town vows to fight for store
by MATTHEW TAYLOR
A STORE war grew in bitterness yesterday when it was revealed consultants were forecasting closure two years ago. Shoppers are fuming about Tescos decision to close its town centre supermarket in Shotton. Senior managers from the head office in Hertfordshire called a meeting at the weekend to tell shocked staff the store will close on May 8.
The news was greeted with disbelief and MPs, councillors and shoppers have condemned the decision. The 50 staff at Shotton have been offered jobs at Tescos new store which opens on Broughton Retail Park next month.
But protesters claim the closure will rip the heart out of Shotton, with the elderly and families without cars being particularly hard hit.
Anger intensified yesterday when it was revealed that a retail impact study in 1997 warned Broughton Retail Park would hit surrounding towns and picked out the Tesco store as particularly vulnerable. "We would expect significant transfer of trade from Tesco in Shotton and would not rule out the prospect of this store closing if Tesco was to open a store on the proposed Broughton Retail Park," said the consultants.
Flintshire County Council leader Tom Middlehurst said planners were unable to get assurances from Tesco the Shotton store would be kept. "If we could have done we would have done," he said. "But it is just not possible under existing planning law. We discussed the issue of the Shotton store with Tesco and at no time did the company mention its future was in doubt."
Cllr. Middlehurst has called for an emergency meeting with regional managers to try and reverse the decision.
And Alyn and Deeside MP Barry Jones has promised he will intervene at the highest level to see if the supermarket chain can be persuaded to change its mind.
"This is an appalling development," he said. It will hit those who are poor, those who are eldery and those who have no motor car."
Mr Jones was presented with a petition signed by thousands of angry shoppers earlier this week.
"I propose to present this petition to the chairman and chief executive of Tesco and tell them to reconsider their decision," he said. "Tesco has been glad to have the custom of people in Shotton for a generation. Now it must consider the needs of the town." A spokesman for Tesco said: "This store has not been commercially viable for some time. We considered all the options before closure, but the shop is less than 10,000 sq ft., it is not suitable for development and there are planning restrictions. We are opening a new Tesco outlet at Broughton about five miles away and the 50 members of staff are all being relocated to the new store."
The Deeside Chronicle April 9 1999
Traders fear loss of supermarket will spark decline and make Deeside a ghost town
Concern over Tesco blow
by MATTHEW TAYLOR
SHOPKEEPERS fear the closure of the Tesco store in Shotton could be the beginning of the end for Deeside. They are worried the stores decision to pull out will spark a chain reaction, causing other major retailers to desert the town. "This could be the final nail in the coffin," warns Deeside Commercial Enterprise Group chairman Bruno Citra."Who will be next to go? Boots? Woolworths? Somerfield?"
Bruno, who owns the Buying Wild card shop in Queensfcrry, said the closure is bad news for customers and traders alike. "Without major stores like Tesco and Woolworths who is going to come and do their shopping here?" he asked. "We all depend on the spin-off custom from these bigger shops and if they go Deeside could easily become a ghost town." Members of the enterprise group are urging traders to join forces in an effort to survive.
"If we want Deeside to be successful our only chance is to work together to make this area commercially viable," said Bruno.
"The enterprise group has been working with Flintshire County Council for a long time but we need the backing of every trader, especially after this announcement."
The enterprise group has put forward proposals to set up an "in-town" shopping centre around the B&Q store to give Deeside a commercial focal point and attract thousands of people to the area. "These plans, along with other ideas for better parking and easier access, are more relevant now than they ever were," said Bruno.
The 50 staff from Tescos in Shotton have been offered work at the Broughton store when the shop closes its doors on May 8.
Flintshire County Council leader Tom Middlehurst has called for an emergency meeting with regional managers of Tesco to try and reverse the decision.
"A delegation including myself, chief executive Philip McGreevy and Cllr. Arthur Davies will be meeting senior officials in the next few days," he said.
We will have the opportunity to put the case for the Shotton store and outline the effect its closure will have on the community.
"This is the least the people of Shotton deserve after loyally supporting Tesco for the past 29 years."
Make your voice heard over closure
THE news that Tesco is to pull out of Shotton has sent shock waves through the local community.
Many elderly and low-income families will be left without anywhere to do their weekly shopping if the plan goes ahead. And traders fear it could be the beginning of the end for their businesses. Now The Chronicle is giving you the chance to tell Tesco what you think about its decision by filling in this coupon which will be presented to Alyn and Deeside MP Barry Jones.
The Deeside Chronicle April 30 1999
Mr Bevans to close town store
SHOPPERS in Shotton have been dealt another closure blow.
Long-established retailer Mr Bevans is closing its store in the town on Sunday. The shock news comes hot on the heals of Tescos decision to pull out of Shotton and has increased speculation that the towns commercial future is hanging by a thread. "There has been a steady decline in trade for quite a long time," said company secretary David Bevan. "Certainly there was a major shift when Asda opened. The whole centre of trade moved away from the town," He said the company has been considering closure for the past six months. "In the end we didnt see the situation improving so we had no choice but to close." he said.
The news has been greeted with disbelief and dismay by other shopkeepers. "This is terrible not just for Shotton but for Queensferry and Connahs Quay, said Bruno Citra, chairman of Deesides Commercial Enterprise Group.
"It is a general sign of the times. The out-of-town developments are ripping the heart out of local shopping centres and it is getting harder for the smaller traders to compete. Youve got to ask who will be next to go Woolworths, Boots, Somerfield? The future looks very bleak." He said the real challenge will be attracting big retailers to come in and take the place of Tesco and Mr Bevans. "In the current climate I cant see any obvious candidates who would want to come in and take over these sites, he said. They are both big shops and need big successful retailers to make them viable"
Bruno, who owns the Buying Wild Card Shop in Queensferry said, the news highlights the need for remaining traders to band together to try and safeguard their future. "We are trying to promote this area as a commercial centre and its crucial we have the support of all the remaining traders so we can get Deeside back on its feet," he said.
Mr Bevans says it will try to find work for the seven Shotton employees at its other stores across North Wales. "We have nine remaining stores which are all doing well and we will look at the possibility of offering alternative employment for the Shotton staff" said a spokesman. The Flint-based company sells garden and DIY equipment and has had a store in Shotton for the past 20 years. It opened a new shop in Connahs Quay three years ago and employs 100 staff across North Wales.
The Deeside Chronicle October 15 1999
Meeting called to inject life back into town
by MATTHEW TAYLOR
A PUBLIC meeting is being held to thrash out a future for an ailing town centre.
Businesses have been queuing up to pull out of Shotton since the new Broughton Shopping Park opened in the summer. Now Welsh Assembly member Tom Middlehurst says enough is enough.
The former Flintshire County Council leader is inviting business leaders, residents and politicians to get togethér to fight for the future of Shotton. Under the banner The way forward for Shotton, the meeting will be held at Mr. Middlehursts new offices at Deeside Enterprise Centre on November 12.
He says he wants everyone with an interest in Shotton to try to make the meeting. "This meeting will bring local people and decision-makers together to discuss the very real concerns there are here in Shotton," said Mr Middlehurst. It will give people who have an interest in the town the opportunity to listen to the local authority and to put forward their ideas and visions."
"I want this meeting to be proactive, looking for and discussing solutions which can realistically be put in place to inject life back into the town."
Flintshire County Council chief executive Philip McGreevy will start proceedings with a talk on initiatives already under way.
And short presentations will be made by the countys economic development officer Dave Heggarty and an official from the Welsh Development Agency. Mr Middlehurst says he believes there is still time to turn Shottons fortunes around.
"We must recognise people want to shop out of town, he said. But I firmly believe Shotton can create a shopping experience of its own and we must find a strategy to do that."
Invitations have already been sent to town and county councillors in Shotton, Flintshire County Council leader Alex Aldridge, highways and transport chairman Meirion Matthews, and economic development panel chairman Derek Butler.
"This meeting is about everybody having an opportunity to put a view forward," said Mr. Middlehurst. "Its about moving forward together, listening to new ideas and then seeing what is possible." He said he hopes a new group will be formed out of the meeting to keep the momentum going.
"What I would like to see are some constructive and positive outcomes to keep the ideas flowing," he said. The meeting has already won the backing of traders. Deeside Enterprise Group chairman Bruno Citra said it is a step in the right direction.
The Deeside Chronicle October 22 1999
Convent joins fight to save community
by MATTHEW TAYLOR
NUNS have joined the crusade to save a troubled town centre.
Sisters from the Ursuline Convent in Shotton have lent their voices to the growing chorus of protest surrounding a slump in the towns fortunes. The nuns say they have witnessed a startling decline in the community since the Tesco store shut.
"The supermarket was the very heart of this town," said Sister Vianney from the Beaconsfield Road convent. "People met and talked there. The staff were exceptionally friendly and kind. They had time for everybody, especially the elderly and the young."
Tesco bosses shut the store in the spring and the move was quickly followed by the closure of Mr Bevans hardware shop. Sister Vianney says the double blow sparked a dramatic downward spiral for the community "I look around the town now and there is a feeling of deadness. There are fewer people on the streets and the shutters on the empty shops give everything a sad feeling," she said.
The nuns are backing Welsh Assembly member Tom Middiehursts idea of a public meeting. "It is very important to get a fruit and vegetable store back in the town," she said. "This meeting is definitely a step in the right direction. This town has suffered a lot since Tesco closed and it is time action was taken to help." Sister Vianney says the people of Shotton need to feel like a community again. "Ive just visited East London to see the marvellous regeneration work they have done there so I know it is possible," she said. "Perhaps we should have some sort of community advice centre where residents can go to get free help with all sorts of problems. And we could have a resource centre and library with access to computers and books."
Sister Vianney believes big companies should dip into their pockets to help meet the cost. "Asda and Tesco must have some obligation to reinvest in this area," she said. "They have made a lot of money out of people here and they can surely afford to help us get back on our feet."
Centre can prosper, says AM
Meeting sparks town into action
A PUBLIC meeting called to discuss the future of Shotton has fired the imagination of the town.
Welsh Assembly member Tom Middlehurst says he has been inundated with inquiries about next months showdown.
The former Flintshire County Council leader is inviting business leaders, residents and politicians to fight for the future of Shotton together. Under the banner The Way Forward for Shotton, the meeting will be held at Mr Middlehursts new offices at Deeside Enterprise Centre on November 12 at 1.3Opm.
"I have been delighted with the response weve had so far from everyone involved with the town," he said. "I hope this meeting will prove a turning point for the town and this area. I am confident we can turn things around. It may not happen overnight but there are a lot of good things going on and if everyone works together I believe Shotton can prosper again."
Since Tesco pulled out of the town in the spring other shops have been queuing up to leave. At least 10 stores have closed since January. Now Mr. Middlehurst says he wants everyone with an interest in the future of Shotton to try and make it to the meeting.
Flintshire County Council chief executive Philip McGreevy will start proceedings with a talk on initiatives already under way. And short presentations will be made by the Countys economic development officer Dave Heggarty and an official from the Welsh Development Agency. Invitations have gone to town and county councillors in Shotton; Alyn and Deeside MP Barry Jones; Flintsbire County Council leader Alex Aldridge; highways and transport chairman Meirion Matthews, and economic development panel chairman Derek Butler.
Jones to meet bosses
HIGH level meetings are being held to try and inject life into a struggling town centre. Alyn and Deeside MP Barry Jones is meeting bosses from Barclays Bank and Tesco which have pulled the plug on their Shotton operations.
Mr Jones is summoning Tesco chief executive Terry Leahy to the House of Commons to hammer home the need to find a replacement for the store. He said it is important company boses understand the impact the closure is having.
"I will stress the wish of the people to see a food retailer in the town again," said Mr Jones. "The residents are eager to see the empty Tesco building in use again to help revive the town centre."
Mr Jones says he intends to outline the damaging effect the closure is having on the community. "Shotton needs a boost and the empty Tesco store must feature in the future of the town. It is imperative this excellent site is put to use soon," he said.
In a hectic week Mr Jones is also meeting Barclays chief Andrew McThomas. "The customers in Shotton have been loyal to the bank for years," he said. "Now we are looking for these big companies to start repaying some of that loyalty. We need banks and supermarkets to back the town."
Mr. Jones says it was not all doom and gloom for Shotton. He points to Butlers new service centre and the £300,000 regeneration at Shotton train station. "There are positive things going on in the town and we must do our best to encourage its regeneration," he said.
The Deeside Chronicle October 29 1999
Empty Tesco site finally gets new tenant
Clothing chain sets up shop
by MATTHEW TAYLOR
THE empty Tesco building in Shotton looks set to be filled after serving as a tombstone for the towns hopes for the past six months.
Peacock Stores has been engaged in high level negotiations with the supermarket chain since Tesco pulled the plug on its Shotton operation in the spring.
After an eleventh hour meeting with Alyn and Deeside MP Barry Jones at the Houses of Parliament, Tesco chief executive Terry Leahy confirmed the deal was almost done. "The only party who has indicated and pursued an interest in the premises is the clothes retailer Peacock Stores," said Mr Leahy "As such we are currently finalising a contract for them to take up the lease."
Peacock Stores sell family fashions and bedding and has shops all over the country. Bosses at its Cardiff headquarters were unable to confirm the deal, but it is believed the company may be taking over part of the site rather than the whole plot.
The news has been given a warm welcome by traders and politicians who have been fighting to find a replacement for Tesco since May. Chairman of Deeside Commercial Enterprise Group Bruno Citra said he wished the store well. "It is excellent news," said Bruno. "Its a step in the right direction and it must give all the traders in the area a bit more optimism."
"This company must have looked into the viability of opening a store here and decided there was a future in Deeside".
"Like everybody else I wish them all the best and thank them for coming here and proving there is still something worth fighting for in Deeside."
He said the ideal replacement would have been another food retailer. "Obviously another supermarket would have been the best bet but this is a welcome development because we do not have a clothes retailer on this scale in Deeside."
Tesco bosses admit the deal is not the perfect answer. Mr Leahy said: "Our Asset and Estates Department offered the site to over 20 other food retailers with a view to their taking up the lease and thereby ensuring a replacement foodstore in Shotton."
"To date, despite much effort on our part, none of those approached have shown any interest."
Town has friend in high place
A NATIONAL newspaper editor is backing the campaign to revive Shotton.
Joseph Kelly, of Mold Road, Connahs Quay edits the Catholic tabloid newspaper The Universe. He says he has witnessed a steady decline in the area over the past few years. "It is a textbook example of the way in which private interests and big business have blighted a thriving community," he said.
Mr Kelly lays the blame for the towns demise firmly at the feet of local government and developers. "The aim has been to regenerate Deeside by attracting in new business," he said. "But this has been done without any real consideration or concern for the impact on the local infrastructure."
"As a result the heart has been torn out of Deeside, Shops and amenities have been forced to close and those who have suffered most are the poor and vulnerable who do not have the means to adapt to out-of-town lifestyles."
"What we have been left with on Deeside is an ugly sprawl of bland housing estates, factory complexes and boarded-up properties."
Mr Kelly is angry that more has not been done to revamp the area. "The tragedy is billions of pounds of EU money is lying unclaimed in Brussels for just this sort of need. Elsewhere countless communities have been given a new lease of life with massive EU grants - why has Deeside missed out?"
Mr Kelly has applauded the Chronicles Save our Shotton Campaign and the efforts of Welsh Assembly member Tom Middlehurst to rally the community. "Full marks to the Chronicle for taking up this issue and to Tom Middlehurst for calling a public meeting to discuss the crisis," he said. "It really is vitally important the whole community gets behind this campaign. It is not just about bringing business back into Shotton but about saving the community itself."
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