TRADERS in Jedburgh remain resolutely opposed to plans for a new supermarket on the northern edge of the town, saying it will have a negative impact on town centre businesses if it gets approval.
So said Diana Cairns, chairperson of Jedburgh Traders Association, speaking to TheSouthern this week. Her comments came as pressure grows for consent to be granted to a second application seeking to develop the former Oregon Timber Frame factor site off the Edinburgh Road for a 14,000sq ft store.
There was outrage last month when councillors at Newtown St Boswells voted by eight to four to reject an application for a store on the site on the grounds that the land in question was zoned for industrial use only and that it could have a detrimental impact on town centre trade.
However, two of the town’s three Scottish Borders councillors, Len Wyse and Jim Brown, were in favour of the scheme, with only Sandy Scott reluctant to support it.
The rejection of the application, put forward under the name of Sheppy Industries, sparked fury and within weeks more than 200 people had joined a campaign on the social networking site, Facebook, with 100 more signing an online petition.
And the outpouring of public support for a new supermarket prompted those behind the application to resubmit it, albeit this time under the name of Kelso-based developer, Crabtree & Crabtree which had taken the project over some time before from Sheppy Industries.
Now, campaigners going under the banner ‘Voice & Choice’, have distributed more than 100 bumper stickers calling for the supermarket scheme to be supported, door-to-door canvassing and there is now a public meeting scheduled for December 6 in Jedburgh Town Hall.
Campaign spokesperson Dot Millar says there is no choice in the town for shoppers with both supermarkets run by the Co-op.
“For the size of the town, the Co-op’s two stores are just not enough. Lots of people already leave the town to shop at Tesco and Asda in Galashiels, or at the new Sainsbury’s in Kelso,” she told TheSouthern.
“Not to mention that the 100 full and part-time jobs the supermarket would create, with 100 more wages, many of which would go into the local economy.
“There’s no competition to force the Co-op to offer a better service. And saying the site is zoned for industrial is nonsense – it’s an absolute eyesore.
“So we’re hoping for a big turnout by members of the public for the meeting next month to get our case across.”
However, Mrs Cairns says the town’s traders feel very strongly that their livelihoods would be seriously damaged if a supermarket was allowed to open outwith the town centre. She said: “Traders in this town are just hanging on at the moment. They’re all having a really difficult time. The problem is Jedburgh’s not a big place and all the shops put together would only fill a small-sized department store. It’s a real struggle for many to keep going when things are so tough economically.
“We wouldn’t object to a new supermarket in the middle of the town somewhere, but we don’t want to see one on the edge of town taking trade away from established shops and businesses,” she told us.
Mrs Cairns believes a solution would be for the Co-op to offer an improved service.
“Some of our members have asked their customers if they’d be happy if the Co-op just improved its range and stock of products to offer a better service instead of a new out-of-town-centre store and they all said yes they would,” she said.
“When there are days you can’t get such basic items like gelatine or digestive biscuits at the Co-op, things could obviously be improved.”
Quizzed about the promise of 100 new jobs, Mrs Cairns said it was unlikely there would be enough applicants from Jedburgh to fill them.
“I don’t think all the jobs created by Sainsbury’s in Kelso have been filled by residents of Kelso. And shoppers from Jedburgh are not heading to Galashiels just because there is Asda and Tesco stores there – Galashiels also has a Marks & Spencer store, a large Boots shop and so on. You see plenty of Asda and Tesco lorries making deliveries in Jedburgh, so plenty of local people are already doing their supermarket shopping online.
“We have got to get this issue right if we care about Jedburgh – we can’t afford not to get it right or the effects will be felt for a long time.”