AROUND 200 people met to oppose prospective plans by Tesco to build Barnoldswick’s first superstore.
It was standing room only at the Majestic Church on the Town Square as residents turned up to see what can be done to challenge the plans should they be submitted to Pendle Council.
The supermarket giant has outlined its intentions to open a store on part of the L&P Springs site off Ravenscroft Way.
At a public consultation in July, Tesco representatives said the store would create 175 new jobs, as well as safeguarding the future of the spring manufacturer.
Since then, opinion in the town has remained divided.
Chairing the public meeting on Monday evening, osteopath Nick Tofalos who runs a practice in the Rainhall Centre, said its purpose was to see what support there is from people who are concerned about the welfare of Barnoldswick.
He said: “It is not a simple debate but a subtle and complex one, with many issues surrounding a possible development.
“But there is an alternative vision for Barnoldswick where we don’t have money flying out of the local economy.
“If we support our shops, we put 90p in every pound into the local economy. There is no planning application called ‘support your local shops’ but that is exactly what we need to do.”
Local businessman Trevor Pickles said: “I don’t understand. They are already building a Spar on Skipton Road, and not a small one, which is almost next door. We have the Co-op and the One Stop shop, and plenty of other small shops. Why do they want to put a Tesco in Barnoldswick? They have shut one in Nelson; that didn’t last very long. Barnoldswick is not a through-town. The main roads run either side of Barnoldswick, we are in the middle.
“I have heard people say they will bring people into the town that they will walk up into the town; it’s a load of rubbish.
“What we have got here in town is super. It is compact and has everything going for it. There isn’t a shop you couldn’t shop at.””
One woman who has moved to Barnoldswick in recent years said: “I have got to know people of this town because I have shopped here. I teach in Bolton and cover a lot of miles, so I don’t want to have to drive out. I get something like 75% of my shopping here, so save time and petrol.
“Traffic is busy anyway on Skipton Road and there has been more with the building of the Spar.
“That road is going to get busier on a regular basis, with a petrol station and Subway and then Tesco and its juggernauts. There are two schools close by, a park and Rolls-Royce.”
A resident who lives close to the proposed site on Vicarage Road said: “The supermarket would be out of my bedroom window and I expect there to be noise pollution as it is about 40ft. from my house.
“We were told by Tesco that somebody would get back to us after they had looked at our houses and the proximity to the site but nobody has yet.”
Another attendee said: “I fought this battle a year or two back in Padiham and everything you can do matters. No planning policies care about livelihoods. You know if you lose your job you will not necessarily get a new job at Tesco because they want to pay teenagers. Make sure that people know that you don’t want it. Do things now and stand together as much as you can.”
A vast majority of the residents at the meeting indicated they were opposed to the supermarket, although some said they had come with an open mind.
One man said: “I have lived here for 16 years and I have seen Barnoldswick deteriorate in a lot of ways before supermarkets came along. When I first came there were eight or 10 butchers and half a dozen green grocers. Now there are more charity shops and take aways. I have less than £20 a week to spend on food.”
There has also been a rumour that the town’s post office has been approached by Tesco with the prospect of moving into the potential new store, which the supermarket said is not true.
Matthew Magee, Tesco’s Corporate Manager, said: “Our plans will help keep millions of pounds of trade in Barnoldswick. At present 80% of residents travel out of town to do their main food shopping, pumping around £26 million into neighbouring communities every year.
“We know that there is scope for local people for more convenient supermarket shopping with feedback from our consultation showing more than 70% of people are in favour of the new store.
“The plans would create up to 175 new jobs for local people while the sale of the land to Tesco would also secure the future of L&P Springs in the town.
“We are keen to work closely with traders to help bring more shoppers into the town and create a thriving Barnoldswick.”