Four “corner shop” traders are joining forces in a bid to derail Lidl’s plan to open on the former Welland Hospital site in Roman Bank,
Bosses at Costcutter Late Shopper and Londis, both in Holbeach Road, Acacia Stores in Acacia Avenue and Carlton Stores in Halmer Gate, fear they will be shut down through loss of trade if the budget supermarket lands on their doorstep.
The traders have created a Save Our Shops banner showing their businesses as they are now along with a glimpse of the bleak future they fear awaits them with “closed” and “for sale” signs on empty premises.
South Holland and the Deepings MP John Hayes has also separately written to the council, saying Spalding doesn’t need another supermarket and voicing fears about the proposed store having a “severe detrimental impact on local independent traders”, which could force some to close.
Ranjit Khela and brother Bill have been at the Late Shopper for more than 30 years and now believe they are fighting for their own livelihoods and that of fellow shopkeepers.
Ranjit says: “Jointly, we employ over 25 people in the four shops. I understand Lidl say they are going to create 40 jobs but we are standing to lose 25, that’s how we are looking at it.”
He says Lidl has only one store in Peterborough and believes the company is unlikely to keep its Winsover Road store if it gets the go-ahead for the hospital site.
Ranjit believes the new store is better suited to Spalding town centre or Wardentree Lane Industrial Estate at Pinchbeck while fellow trader Pete Tinkler, from Carlton Stores, suggested the 60-acre Lincs Gateway site off the A16.
Pete said: “We have traded here for 21 years ourselves, the previous owners were here for 14 years. This is not only our home and our business it is our livelihood as well.”
Sunny Tamber, from Acacia Stores, said: “It will have a major effect on our business because it is only like a five minute walk past our shop through the estate into Lidl’s and everybody likes cheap.”
There are petitions in each of the shops and Ranjit has an electronic version on Facebook on his Khela’s Late Shopper page. So far more than 500 people have signed.
Pete says the loss of local corner shop convenience stores will have a big impact on communities, particularly for elderly people who visit on “walkers” and may be too frail to go further afield.
The shopkeepers also say a supermarket and up to 36 new homes on the hospital site will make the already dangerous Roman Bank/Holbeach Road junction worse.
Retirement apartments are due to be built on the former Jewsons site opposite and Pete says supermarket car parks are targeted by boy racers at nights, which will make it a very noisy environment for residents.
Plans for the homes on the hospital site were submitted by United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust.
As well as hitting the corner shops, Mr Hayes believes the Lidl development could have an economic impact on the town “with shoppers just visiting the Lidl store and so not travelling on into Spalding”.
The MP said: “We need to support and encourage more visitors to the town centre, where there is a good mix of local independent businesses, rather than encouraging multi-national stores to take over our communities.”
• Lidl told us they will have two stores in Spalding.
A spokesman for the supermarket said: “We take seriously all of the feedback received regarding our store development plans and would like to reassure the local community that our customers are at the heart of our decision making.
“Since our current store in Spalding town centre opened, our business has experienced exponential growth in the UK, with more customers shopping at Lidl than ever before.
“In order to continue providing the best shopping experience and service for our loyal customers, it is necessary to provide them with a second Lidl supermarket in Spalding.
“We are therefore committed to investing heavily in the local economy through a new store, which will not only help to better accommodate customers travelling from out of town locations, it will also create up to 40 new jobs for the local area.
“It is our strong belief that a new store will be of huge benefit to the community and we are grateful for all the support that we have received for our plans so far. We look forward to receiving a decision from South Holland District Council in due course.”
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