MP Steve Barclay attacks ‘worthless’ Tesco assurances and says it will be difficult to believe anything they tell him in future
- Credit: Archant
MP Steve Barclay tonight described previous promises by Tesco as “worthless” and claimed it would be difficult to believe anything they tell him in the future.
He was reacting to news that the company will not be opening its recently built store at Chatteris and had withdrawn its interest in Whittlesey.
“Today’s announcement by Tesco will be very disappointing to many people in the community,” he said.
“It will be particularly disappointing to those who had taken in good faith the repeated assurances made by Tesco over recent months that they would be advertising jobs at the Chatteris site this spring.”
Mr Barclay said: “Like many residents I feel let down and it will be difficult to believe any Tesco statements moving forward given how unreliable their previous statements have been.
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“Over the last six months I have met with Tesco representatives three times, twice in the constituency and once at the House of Commons, because I sensed that the financial difficulties the company was experiencing were so serious that they didn’t match the local commitments that were being made.
“On each occasion I was told by Tesco that my concerns were unfounded and they were committed to opening their store in line with their public comments.
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“Clearly these assurances were worthless.”
Mr Barclay said he had spoken today with Tesco’s group property director Steve “who tells me that in terms of the Chatteris site they would place no restriction on a competitor occupying some or the entire store.
“They are keen to recover money they will be required to pay on an ongoing basis. “They cannot give any guarantees in terms of alternative occupiers or whether the store will be divided. Discussions are now underway to try to off-load the site.”
The MP said Tesco had confirmed to him that, in terms of Whittlesey, they are contractually committed to the developer in terms of paying for the site there. However Tesco intend to have discussions with Harrier, the local developer, with a view to the store in Whittlesey not being built because Tesco will not occupy it. If the Whittlesey store is built Tesco will be paying in much the same way as they are in Chatteris for an unused store. His view is that Whittlesey will only support one new large supermarket.
Mr Barclay said “Mr Rigby told me that he hoped the decision by Tesco concerning the Whittlesey site will provide encouragement to Sainsbury’s to press ahead with their store, which I am sure given the significant legal costs incurred by Sainsbury’s and by the tax payers of Fenland will sound a touch hollow.
“I will now liaise closely with Fenland District Council and continue speaking with Tesco to push for the Chatteris site to be found alternative occupiers given the importance to local jobs of this site being used.”
The MP said the Tesco site in Chatteris is also important as part of ongoing discussions he was having with the Valuation Office in terms of re-valuation of business rates in Chatteris for smaller shopkeepers “ which is why it is doubly important the store is occupied”.