SHOP STAFF FEAR JOB LOSSES

East Kilbride News - - FRONT PAGE - Nicola Find­lay

Traders in the Vil­lage reckon the de­ci­sion to grant Lidl plan­ning per­mis­sion for a new store on the for­mer site of Atholl House will be “dev­as­tat­ing” for small busi­nesses.

The su­per­mar­ket chain was given the go-ahead by 11 votes to 10 for an out­let on the land­mark site.

Pre­vi­ous ap­pli­ca­tions for a much larger su­per­store – thought to be Asda – were re­jected by South La­nark­shire Coun­cil, whose de­ci­sion was up­held in 2014 fol­low­ing a pub­lic in­quiry in­sti­gated by own­ers of the land, Edis­ton Op­por­tu­nity Fund.

But coun­cil of­fi­cers deemed the much smaller Lidl store as a de­vel­op­ment which would “en­hance the retail of­fer” in East Kil­bride and said a study car­ried out on be­half of the lo­cal au­thor­ity found that the Vil­lage would not be im­pacted by the de­vel­op­ment.

How­ever, this con­clu­sion has been rub­bished by a num­ber of small in­de­pen­dent busi­ness own­ers and East Mains Com­mu­nity Coun­cil.

Wright the Butch­ers owner Stephen Sher­riff told the News he and his staff are anx­ious about their fu­tures fol­low­ing last week’s de­ci­sion.

“I be­lieve this could be dev­as­tat­ing for the Vil­lage and small in­de­pen­dent traders like our­selves,” he said.

“The retail con­sor­tium em­ployed by the coun­cil said this would have no im­pact on the Vil­lage – how any­one could think a dis­counter with 124 free park­ing spa­ces could have no im­pact is be­yond me.

“I want to know what that de­ci­sion was based on and how they came to that con­clu­sion.”

Stephen went on: “I have noth­ing against Lidl per­son­ally or giv­ing the peo­ple of East Kil­bride choice but this is sim­ply the wrong site.

“Park­ing in the Vil­lage will now have to be looked at as our cus­tomers are con­stantly hounded by an overzeal­ous park­ing regime in Glebe Street and Hunter Street.

“My staff are very anx­ious about their fu­tures and the im­pact this could have on us.”

He added: “I know of a butcher else­where who had a dis­counter move near him and saw his turnover halve in a year.

“There are small fam­ily busi­nesses who have been in the Vil­lage for a long time – 50 or 70 years – and sim­ply can’t com­pete.

“At the end of the day it’s well doc­u­mented that small re­tail­ers ev­ery­where are hav­ing a dif­fi­cult time.”

Florist Moira Mur­ray, whose fam­ily have owned Grants for more than 70 years, said: “My mum had the busi­ness be­fore me and we must be one of the old­est busi­nesses in the Vil­lage.

“All the small busi­ness will be af­fected by Lidl and it cer­tainly isn’t go­ing to do us any good so we are all wor­ried.

“The su­per­mar­kets can un­der­cut us.

“There is no pass­ing trade largely down to the big stores and we rely on the lo­cal churches and schools and spe­cial oc­ca­sions like birth­days, an­niver­saries and other events such as fu­ner­als.”

Louise Wright, who owns Loupin Stane cof­fee shop, said: “Lidl is not go­ing to do any­thing to help busi­nesses in the Vil­lage, that’s for sure.

“There is more and more com­pe­ti­tion for food and eat­ing es­tab­lish­ments and the coun­cil don’t do any­thing to en­cour­age peo­ple to come into the Vil­lage and sup­port the lo­cal busi­nesses.

“This will sim­ply dis­cour­age them fur­ther.”

East Mains Com­mu­nity Coun­cil ob­jected to the pro­posal and are now call­ing for the lo­cal au­thor­ity to set up a com­mit­tee to help re­vi­talise the Vil­lage.

Chair Bill Arthur said: “We are ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed with the de­ci­sion and the detri­men­tal ef­fect it will have on the Vil­lage.

“For years now we have been con­stantly striving to en­hance the vi­brancy of the area and en­cour­age more peo­ple to use the Vil­lage and sup­port lo­cal traders and this just

My staff are very anx­ious about their fu­tures and the im­pact this could have on us...

flies in the face of that.

“De­spite what was stated in the re­port be­fore the com­mit­tee, we still be­lieve it is contrary to the lo­cal de­vel­op­ment plan.

“We are now call­ing on the coun­cil to set up a com­mit­tee to en­hance the fa­cil­i­ties and the vi­brancy of the Vil­lage by en­cour­ag­ing foot­fall, off­set­ting any dam­age this may do.”

The com­mu­nity coun­cil and traders also fear in­creased traf­fic con­ges­tion in and around Churchill Av­enue – where the su­per­mar­ket will be ac­cessed from.

East Mains Com­mu­nity Coun­cil sec­re­tary Jean Aitken added: “There is a busy sec­ondary school and a church right next to this de­vel­op­ment.

“More traf­fic will be gen­er­ated and it will be­come more even haz­ardous for pupils and oth­ers in the area.”

Con­cerns were also raised over unau­tho­rised park­ing on streets with per­mits, such as White­moss Av­enue, at peak times and the reper­cus­sions for res­i­dents. East Kil­bride Cen­tral North Labour coun­cil­lor Joe Fa­gan, speak­ing as an ob­jec­tor, and In­de­pen­dent Jim Ward­haugh – backed by the SNP’s Archie Buchanan – made last­ditch pleas on be­half of traders at last week’s meet­ing. How­ever, they were un­suc­cess­ful in per­suad­ing plan­ning com­mit­tee coun­cil­lors to go against the rec­om­men­da­tion of lo­cal au­thor­ity of­fi­cers. Cllr Fa­gan said: “I wel­come the in­ter­est that Lidl have shown in East Kil­bride. “But, in my opin­ion, there was a more ap­pro­pri­ate site for this de­vel­op­ment that was the largely va­cant Olympia area of the town cen­tre. “That would have al­lowed a new bud­get su­per­mar­ket into the town, with the Cen­tre will­ing to do a deal on park­ing, with­out di­vert­ing trade away from the town cen­tre. “And it

De­vel­op­ment site The for­mer Atholl House was ripped down in 2016 af­ter a war­rant was granted by South La­nark­shire Coun­cil

Wrong de­ci­sion Traders, com­mu­nity rep­re­sen­ta­tives and EK Hous­ing Fo­rum all ob­jected to the Lidl store be­ing given the go-ahead Dev­as­tat­ing im­pact Traders fear Lidl could drive cus­tomers away from the Vil­lage

Fears Bill Arthur wants a com­mit­tee set up to se­cure the long-term fu­ture of the Vil­lage

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