Sainsbury's urged to reconsider Gloucester shop closure
By Rob Freeman | 9th September 2020
The decision to shut the Gloucester city centre branch of Sainsbury's has been met with dismay by customers and leading business figures with politicians from all sides united in calling for a rethink.
Sainsbury's yesterday confirmed the Northgate Street branch was to close.
A spokesperson said: "We have updated colleagues on the difficult decision to close our Gloucester store and we are doing everything we can to find alternative roles within Sainsbury's for those affected."
The news, reported yesterday on Punchline-Gloucester.com, was labelled a blow to the city and even "madness" by once councillor as high-profile customers voiced their frustration.
Councillor Dawn Melvin, cabinet member for economic recovery and growth at Gloucester City Council, tweeted: "It's madness. The lease was up but they should have held that local.
"It's a prime spot once King's Quarter is completed. @SainsburysNews don't shut Northgate Street, Gloucester. It's a valuable site."
And Gloucester MP Richard Graham said he was saddened to hear about the closure.
He said: "I shop there regularly as it is near my office and I hope another quality supermarket will take the space very soon."
The supermarket was the only Sainsbury's in the city until the opening of the larger Barnett Way branch in the 1980s.
Councillor Kevin Stephens, leader of the Labour group at Gloucester City Council, said: "I'm saddened that it has come to this.
"I will shortly be making enquiries and my office door is open not only to Sainsbury's but the workers who will be affected."
A petition to keep the supermarket open has been launched by former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Dr Rebecca Trimnell.
She said: "For older people or those who do not have a car, this store is a vital lifeline for the community living close to the city centre.
"The only other choice is going to a large out of town supermarket, which could be difficult if you don't drive."
The petition was backed by Liberal Democrat group leader Councillor Jeremy Hilton.
He said: "I worked at the store in my teenage years when it first opened on the cheese and bacon counter.
"I still shop here regularly and many Kingsholm residents use it as well. It would be a great loss to the community if it were to close.
"I have put in a motion to the city council to try and keep the store open. We shall debate the closure on September 24."
There was also dismay from other people who work nearby - at Gloucester Cathedral.
The Right Reverend Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester, tweeted: "This is such sad news. We love this friendly local store next door. There is nothing else locally like it."
And the Very Reverend Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester, said: "So much at the heart of the community, especially elderly folk in walking distance who visit daily. @sainsburys please reconsider."
Sam Holliday, the Federation of Small Businesses development manager for Gloucestershire, fears the decision will have a knock-on effect on other traders in the area.
He said: ''The loss of the Sainsbury's store In the centre of Gloucester is a blow not only to staff and shoppers but to the town centre and its business community as well.
"We have seen an encouraging return to retail activity in Gloucester and beyond and it feels as though people are starting to feel confident again about shopping and supporting our high street businesses.
"To lose a store as important to Sainsbury's at this stage which brought so many people into that side of the town and, hopefully, supported businesses around it as well is very disappointing."
He continued: "Any time a big store closes it has a direct knock-on effect for smaller businesses around it as it gives people one less reason to visit that area so this has a lot of implications.
"We just hope that new initiatives to improve Gloucester city centre and the local retail offering as a whole can be speeded up to encourage people to use the town centre which has always been at the heart of the community."
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