Chris and Ron write:
According to Geoff Percival in today’s Echo:
RETAIL giant Asda has promised to listen to residents before opening a new superstore 24 hours a day.
A Government inspector, has overturned Rochford District Council’s refusal to allow unlimited opening, after the firm appealed.
The new store, in Rawreth Lane, Rayleigh, is now nearing completion as part of the development of the old Park School site.
The development also includes housing, the new Rayleigh Leisure Centre and a primary school.
The supermarket originally also applied to the council for new illuminated signs advertising 24-hour opening, but these have now been withdrawn.
In a report to councillors, head of planning Shaun Scrutton said: “These were optional signs which the applicant has asked to be deleted, as the store is not to open to customers for 24 hours.”
However, the company has also applied to the council for a licence to sell beers, wines and spirits 24 hours a day.
Asda spokesman Philip Bartram said: “We have not made any decision about opening hours and we will listen to the local people.
“Options are open, but I cannot be more specific.”
He added: “We are really excited about coming to Rayleigh and are looking forward to working closely with the local community as our store develops.”
Chris Black, Lib Dem councillor for Downhall and Rawreth, said he still had concerns about the store’s likely opening hours.
He said: “I will be keeping a close watch on the situation, as this is probably closer to homes than any other Asda store, particularly in this area.
“There are major concerns and a lot of people feel bitter about what has happened, so I hope the company will take note of local concerns.”
Now, if you look at the original council report on Asda’s planning application, you find:
Following the concerns raised by Members and from the public consultation responses the applicants have provided additional information concerning hours of opening and delivery trips.
The applicant confirms that the Store would trade between the hours 08.00 ? 22.00 hrs Monday to Saturday and for 6 hours between 10.00 and 18.00 hrs on Sundays.
So it will be interesting to see just how much Asda are now willing to listen to resident’s concerns, especially as they originally confirmed that the store would not be opening 24 hours per day.
Having just read the Echo in which ASDA assure us that they have yet to decide on opening hours its interesting to remind ourselves that when they applied to build the store they seemed very clear of their hours of trading.
Many people felt reassured by ASDAs apparent commitment to these hours. How much worse is it now to find that the Council could have recommended a condition and if successful this would have obliged ASDA to limit its hours of trading. This in turn would have limited their ability to sell alcohol (their current request is for a 24 hour licence on the grounds that they can open for business all day) and would have reduced the potential impact of the proposed illuminated signs as ASDA claim that they will turn them off when the store is closed (hardly a “special offer” if they never close!).
Maybe now is the time to remind ASDA of their previous public commitment to hours of opening and ask them to respect the wishes of the community in which they trade by putting that commitment in writing as a form of self governing condition. What a great piece of publicity that would be for them as a”caring” partner in the community!
Interestingly, if Asda are intending to open 24 hours then they are not recruiting the staff to cover those working hours.
Their recruitment literature states that the latest hours tobe worked end at 10.30 p.m. and the earliest start is 6.30 a.m.
I would remind the Canterbury Close resident that this may be what they intend at the moment but it does not stop ASDA changing to 24 hour trading whenever they think it is ecomomically viable.
Of course to be viable they would need to consider that trade would be sufficient to warrant the cost of opening and therefore numbers visiting the site through the night would be significant and not just “a small number” as suggested by the planning development officers.