Tesco to pay ‘sweetener’ to Chatteris Christmas lights and Cruse Bereavement Care after delays to town store

The opening of the Tesco store, in Chatteris, has been delayed.

The opening of the Tesco store, in Chatteris, has been delayed. - Credit: Archant

Tesco has given a £4,000 ‘sweetener’ to community groups in Chatteris by way of an apology for mothballing its new store on the edge of town.

The underpass which leads to the Tesco store.

The underpass which leads to the Tesco store. - Credit: Archant

Chatteris Christmas Lights will receive £2,500 and Cruse Bereavement Care, which provides support for bereaved people across the Fens, will receive £1,500 to train more volunteers.

NE Cambs MP Steve Barclay secured the compensation after meeting Tesco corporate affairs manager Adam Williams.

Mr Barclay said: “It is great that Tesco has agreed to support these good causes. It shows it listened and understood the disappointment caused by its decision to delay the store’s opening.”

Chris Savill, lights committee chairman, said: “Not only has it made my day but it is a welcome Christmas present to Chatteris Christmas Lights.

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“Our thanks must go to Mr Barclay for thinking of our community. It means a great deal to all of the volunteers and residents to know that he is working behind the scenes to better the area.”

Helen Pope, Cruse area co-ordinator, said the money will be used to provide up to six free places on the course.

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She said: “Recruiting volunteers is not always easy, especially as they have to pay for the training course themselves and that can be a deterrent.

The underpass which leads to the Tesco store.

The underpass which leads to the Tesco store. - Credit: Archant

“This £1,500 will go a long way to supporting people to complete the course.”

Meanwhile, Harrier Developments, which built the store for Tesco, revealed it has paid all monies due to Fenland District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council to provide CCTV for the underpass and for future maintenance.

Harrier has paid the county council £96,500 to help with maintaining the underpass and nearby footpaths.

It has also paid Fenland Council £41,000 to provide CCTV and £81,800 towards local play areas.

However, residents are demanding action over the underpass, which has become a hotspot for anti-social behaviour.

Graffiti is plastered on the walls and youngsters chuck cans into back gardens.

Gerald Clark, whose garden backs on to the underpass, said: “Our worst nightmares are coming to fruition. There are objects thrown over the back wall so we are worried about our garden.

“The underpass is covered in graffiti yet we were told it’s graffiti-proof.

“We want answers. Was the underpass needed? Questions we had about it have I’m afraid come to fruition. It’s very worrying living at the back of it.”

Fish and chip shop owner Mark Petrou said: “There’s this frustration I’m sensing from customers who come into the shop. It’s not good enough.

“As a community we all have a duty to know where our children are and what they are doing. The underpass is certainly a concern.

“Tesco has a responsibility to the community. After all, it came along and made a lot of promises.”

County councillor Dave Connor visited the site with fellow councillor Sandra Rylance on Friday and said that “things are moving on”.

He said: “The cameras have been ordered. I’ve spoken to Liz Dent (Harrier’s spokesman) and she said the fencing at the site will be taken away as soon as Anglian Water sorts out a nearby pumping station.

“Things are moving on, although we still have not been told by Tesco when the store will open.”

Ms Dent told Cllr Connor: “I would expect Fenland Council to be installing CCTV cameras shortly.”

“I speak to the residents frequently and they have not told me of anything being thrown into their gardens, I will no doubt speak to them again this week to keep them informed of progress.

“We replaced the rear fences of those properties backing on to the underpass with a stronger taller fence; they seem to be pleased with this so I am surprised that they have not mentioned anything.”

A Fenland Council spokesman said: “We’re hoping that the CCTV cameras will be up and running shortly.

“Because they will be situated on land owned by the county council, we are checking with officers that it’s OK for us to go ahead and install them.

“As soon as we get that confirmed, we’ll put them in place and start monitoring activities there.”

Harrier says the underpass is the responsibility of the county council, but the county council disputes this.

Ms Dent told Cllr Connor: “Please be aware that the underpass is not the responsibility of Tesco; it was built for the highway authority so people could walk to the store.

“We entered into an agreement with the county council at the beginning of the project to construct the underpass, roundabout and all the highway alteration works, working as its contractor.”

She said Harrier was responsible for remedying any defects for a 12-month period following completion, i.e. until October 2015.

Ms Dent also said: “The underpass and footway are still closed as there is one piece of work to complete which involves Anglian Water and its pumping station. Unfortunately we have been waiting for Anglian Water to complete these works for months and unfortunately we are still waiting.

“Once Anglian Water has undertaken its works, we can complete our works in full and open up the underpass. Until then it will remain fenced off.”

A county council spokesman said: “The underpass is still in the possession of Tesco’s agents. The company is still carrying out work.”

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