Co-op in U-turn over Earlston fuel sales

John Paton-Day outside the former Rhymers Tower filling station and Rutherfords car showroom, which The Co-operative plans to covert into a store. The retailer is also aiming to restore fuel sales on the site.
John Paton-Day outside the former Rhymers Tower filling station and Rutherfords car showroom, which The Co-operative plans to covert into a store. The retailer is also aiming to restore fuel sales on the site.
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Just over a week after The Co-operative withdrew plans for a new store at the former Rutherfords site in Earlston, it has come back with a new bid.

This time the retailer is proposing to reinstate fuel sales, after it had dismissed the possibility in the initial application to the council for planning approval, stating that the petrol pumps served an area with ready access to other such facilities.

A spokesperson for The Co-operative told The Southern this week: “Following a review I can confirm that we have resubmitted our plans for a new convenience store to include a petrol filling station.

“It is our view that residents and visitors to Earlston will be better served by this addition.”

He added: “The new store is planned to open in the new year, at which point the existing store in the town will close.

“All staff will transfer to the new site, and a number of new jobs will be created.”

The news of the reinstatement of fuel sales in the town has been welcomed by local resident and former ward councillor John Paton-Day, but he has also raised concerns about access to the store for elderly residents.

“Of course it is good that we could have the fuel sales, but it does mean a number of people will have a difficult job getting across the road, and there is no crossing there,” Mr Paton-Day said.

He added: “We do need the garage back open, and if the only way to get that is this, then there is not a lot we can do about it.”

Mr Paton-Day added that he also has concerns about the potential for the existing Co-op site in the centre of the town to be left empty for some time.

However, he said that the overall benefits of the scheme to provide the store and fuel sales just off the A68 probably outweighed the negatives.

Mr Paton-Day said that while a councillor he and others in the community pushed for a crossing over the A68, but he said this was rejected by Transport Scotland due to a lack of footfall, following surveys.

But he added that if the Co-op gets the go-ahead for the new store it would increase footfall, which could strengthen the case for a crossing.

“I would like the Co-op to join in that fight to get a crossing”, Mr Paton-Day said.