Many businesses in Alnwick are going under and should not have to fight competition from the national pub chain Wetherspoon, said traders’ leader Carlo Biagioni.
At public question time at Thursday’s Alnwick Town Council meeting, he asked: “Do you realise that even with the amount of work carried out by Alnwick Chamber of Trade, many businesses in Alnwick are going under?
“Wetherspoon’s is going to make things even more difficult for other pubs, coffee shops and restaurants, and even services such as police and fire.”
The pub trade was struggling, he said. Would the town council study the chain’s effect on other market towns?
One argument for allowing the long-empty Corn Exchange to be converted was that the area would be tidied, yet last year the county council had been prevented from improving adjoining Roxbro Place car park.
He said: “It’s not a valid reason for allowing the application, because they would have tidied up all that area, except of course for the building.”
Mayor Coun Alan Symmonds advised Mr Biagioni that his questions were for the county planning committee, which would make the decision.
John Hope, owner of the Tower Restaurant, said: “The press reported that the town council were supporting this planning application, yet I have no recollection of any of you coming to us, the traders, to ask for our reaction to this.”
Planning committee chairman Rachael Roberts said the town’s comments had to be on aspects such as use of the building. The town had raised planning concerns, such as possible disturbance of neighbours, delivery times and access.
Lorraine Ochocinska, who lives in St Michael’s Lane, next to the Corn Exchange, and has petitioned against the pub, said access for lorries and ambulances must be preserved. She was also concerned people would lose their washing lines. She said her nephew had been refused permission seven years ago to turn the Corn Exchange into a nightclub, but Wetherspoon would also be open late.