Scorn poured on Lidl plans
Lidl’s plans to open a new supermarket at the Borders Gateway site near Tweedbank after Premier Inn pulled out would damage the local economy, according to a local councillor.
Tom Miers, who was mysteriously ousted from his role as the local authority’s planning portfolio two years ago, said the move would undermine the council’s attempts to help High Streets recover their economic vitality.
He told us: “This site was never intended to be a retail park.
“It wasn’t designed for hotels either, so I’m glad Premier Inn have dropped their plans, but a supermarket would be even worse.
"We need to pursue consistent policies to encourage retail and overnight accommodation in our town centres, not in haphazard developments across the countryside.”
Leaderfoot and Melrose Conservative councillor Mr Miers also poured scorn on claims that a Lidl supermarket would bring 35 new jobs.
He said: “These sorts of claims are economical nonsense and completely unhelpful to constructive debate on development issues like this.
"If you open a new shop that employs 35 people, then by definition you’re going to lose a similar number of jobs in other shops. Borderers can only spend their money once. And since Lidl employs fewer people than the average retailer, a new Lidl means a net loss of jobs in local retail, not a gain.”
“If the Borders is to thrive, we need to play to our strengths, which are a high quality of life in an attractive environment of thriving local towns full of character, in a rural setting. That’s the way to attract investment, tourism and people.”
“I’m a big fan of Lidl and a big fan of consumer choice in a competitive market economy. But you have to look at things in the round to get policy right and encourage high quality jobs in the long term. So, ‘yes’ to new shops and hotels, but they need to be in our town centres, not on every out-of-town roundabout in the Borders.”
“This announcement is clearly an attempt to ‘bounce’ planners into accepting a bad idea by giving the impression it’s a done deal. But as far as I know no planning application has yet been made. If and when it does I’m confident the council’s policies will be upheld and good sense will prevail.”