Fears for Hill Top’s traders

TRADERS at Hill Top are fearing for their livelihood for the second time in six months after hearing Sainsbury’s could be moving into a derelict pub site opposite their row of shops.

The shopkeepers were left worried their businesses would go under after hearing Tesco had applied for planning permission back in September last year.

And now Sainsbury’s has applied to move into the Man in Space site just across the road, they say they might as well ‘shut up shop’.

Mr and Mrs Rai took over Johnson’s newsagents just before plans were submitted for the Tesco Express store.

Mrs Rai said: “It’s disgusting. They might as well move Morrisons and Marks and Spencers in as well now to be honest and close Hill Top down altogether.

“It’s going to close the small businesses.”

At the time, Mrs Rai had said she was worried for her and her husband’s livelihood, but this week admitted it only affected their trade in the first week of opening.

But the 38-year-old said she was certain a second store would make a difference, particularly with it being directly opposite her shop.

“It will hit us, I know that,” she said.

“I was shocked when I heard. You don’t need a Tesco and a Sainsbury’s 100 yards down the road.”

But Mr Rai said she has given up trying to protest, because she felt she was not listened to when Tesco came to town.

“Before Tesco came I did a petition and everything and the council just didn’t care. Petitions are a waste of time. I’m not going to bother.”

Eastwood Mayor Brian Griffin said: “They’ve allowed a Tesco, but a Sainsburys opposite the row of shops is an absolute insult. I’m absolutely amazed and disgusted.”

Staff at Stacey’s butchers said there was ‘no doubt’ that big stores would ‘kill off local shops’ and Cllr Mick Brown, who owns the cycle shop at Hilltop, said it was ‘one calamity after another’.

The shopkeepers were also angry that the Sainsbury’s store is not mentioned until far down on the planning application – which is predominantly for a vets to be built on the same site.

Cllr Brown branded it ‘deceitful’.

“If you ask me, it looks like the retail unit could be a pet shop,” he said. “You would expect the retail unit to be something as part of the vets wouldn’t you? Not a supermarket.”

He added: “The way things are going supermarkets are going to kill Hilltop shops. It’s already going more on night time trade such as takeaways.”

A spokesman for Sainsbury’s said: “Our plans should help to support the vibrancy of the local parade.

“Its location should encourage people to use the other shops at the same time. Our car park will also be available for short term use for shoppers. A new Sainsbury’s store can deliver many advantages such as increased investment, new jobs and greater footfall to the area.”