A WORRIED shopkeeper opposed to Sainsbury’s plans to build a large supermarket in Wetherby has written to the Prime Minister about its potential impact on other businesses in the town.
In a letter to David Cameron – published on page 7 – Nish Kanabar, who runs Castlegate Stores and two other businesses in Wetherby, sets out his concerns for the economic welfare of the town should the retail giant be given the go-ahead to build the supermarket at the Ramada Jarvis hotel site.
Mr Kanabar, who also invites the Prime Minister to share his own views on the proposals, writes: “If each (independent) store in town lays off one person due to the hit in turnover we are talking a total of 155 jobs.”
The shopkeeper also says 50 jobs would go at the hotel, 12 employees at the Sainsbury’s store on Crossley Street would need to be re-deployed and, in his opinion, Morrisons may have to lay off 50 staff and the M&S Food 20 staff.
In his letter, Mr Kanabar said Wetherby would welcome the involvement of Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King, Morrisons boss Dalton Philips and chief executive of Marks and Spencer Marc Bolland in the debate. Each company boss has been sent a copy of the letter to the Prime Minister.
Residents were able to get a glimpse of the plans and talk to representatives of Sainsbury’s when it held an exhibition on the proposals at the hotel on Friday last week and at the town hall on Saturday.
The company is also arranging for leaflets about the proposals to be delivered around the town over the next fortnight.
Mr Kanabar took advantage of the first day of the exhibition to present Sainsbury’s with petition sheets containing more than 4,000 signatures from people opposed to the development.
“There are still names being put on the petition now,” he added.
Sainsbury’s has said it is important as many people as possible take part in its consultation and was pleased with the amount of people who visited the exhibition.
Jo Try, regional development executive, said: “I’d like to thank everyone who came along to the weekend’s exhibition. We had a great turnout over the two days and received a lot of useful feedback.
“We’re in the process of analysing all the comments we have received which will be used to help shape the final plans.”
The planned store would have a 30,000sq ft sales area plus customer restaurant and car parking and Sainsbury’s says up to 200 new full and part-time jobs could be created with its opening.
Ramada Jarvis has already agreed a deal which would see ownership of the site transfer to Sainsbury’s should planning permission for the new store be granted.
Opposition to Sainsbury’s plans has also been voiced in all the letters on the topic sent to the Wetherby News this week.
Hilary Kennedy, of Deighton Road in the town, said: “I believe another Sainsbury’s supermarket situated on the fringe of Wetherby is completely unnecessary.
“We already have a large supermarket most conveniently situated within easy walking distance of the town centre. This together with numerous independent shops as well as Sainsbury’s and a Co-operative... serves the community very well.”
And Beth Black, of Sicklinghall Road in Linton, said: “The threat of this supermarket opening is already manifesting itself in Wetherby by the number of empty units and those now occupied by charity shops.
“As for the red herring of the store providing jobs in the town, will they ensure their employees are all residents of Wetherby? I don’t think so. How many jobs will be lost when small businesses close?”
You can view Sainsbury’s plans and comment to the company online at its website, www.sainsburys-wetherby.co.uk