The ‘disappointing’ news that Tesco is to close a superstore in Northumberland has sparked anger and concern.
The supermarket giant announced this week that it would be shutting 43 shops across the country, including the one in Bedlington. Amble’s Tesco Express store survived the cull, after the company pulled out of plans to build a new outlet in the town earlier this month.
The decision to close the Bedlington premises, which is a major employer in the town, has prompted a critical response.
Coun Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “This is very disappointing news for us at County Hall, and particularly for the staff who work in the Bedlington store. I’m sure the thousands of shoppers who use this Tesco every week are also as concerned. However, we are committed to supporting regeneration and business growth in our town centres and will be looking at future options for Bedlington town centre.”
The Bedlington superstore is due to close on April 4 and Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery has reacted furiously to the news. For the past few weeks, he has been in discussions with Tesco about the future of the store in Bedlington, and the promise the company made eight years ago to invest in Bedlington by building new shops and a business enterprise centre just yards away from its store.
Tesco had responded by saying that the enterprise centre and shops it had once planned for what is known locally as the ‘gap site’ would not be going ahead.
But Mr Lavery added: “Only last week, I asked Tesco what its intentions for Bedlington were and they gave no indication that the store would also be closing in April. Now it seems that they are prepared to allow Bedlington to wither on the vine by closing what is a valued amenity for local people.
“When Tesco announced recently that it was to close 43 stores, the company gave no indication that Bedlington would be one of them, although they did say that Amble would be affected by the closure programme.
“Closing the Bedlington store will be a huge blow to the people who work there and my heart goes out to them as well as to the local residents, particularly the elderly who found it very convenient for them in the town centre.
“Eight years ago, the announcement that Bedlington was to get some new shops, a business centre for small firms and investment in the biggest supermarket in the town, was greeted enthusiastically. Today, those hopes have been dashed and it is fair to say that this news has come as an absolute bombshell for Bedlington.
“My reaction is to say that I will immediately write to the chief executive of Tesco urging him to begin negotiations without any delay, over the disposal of the land and property the company owns in and around Bedlington Market Place, to Northumberland County Council so that alternative plans can be drawn up to ensure that the developments the people of the town were anticipating, can actually go ahead.
“I feel that I have been totally mislead by the company and never once in any recent discussions I have had with Tesco representatives was it hinted that the future of its Bedlington store was in jeopardy.
“Bedlington needs the sort of investment that would be of great benefit to the town centre – and which was promised eight years ago – and not the closure of an important local amenity such as this store.”
The closure of 43 Tesco stores, which also includes the Tesco Express outlets at Whitley Bay and York Road Hartlepool, will result in 2,000 staff lose their jobs.