Further talks about Tesco’s future proposals for Bedlington are planned after an ‘extremely positive’ first meeting.
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery held talks with bosses at the supermarket after he raised concerns about the delay in moving forward plans for the store in the Market Place in the town centre.
Mr Lavery had called for the meeting to raise the concerns of local people that there appeared to be an eight-year delay in Tesco fulfilling its promise to go ahead with what was described at the time as the biggest single investment in Bedlington’s history.
The company had revealed a multi-million pound package of investment in improvements at its Bedlington store, as well as plans to build retail units and a business enterprise centre at the corner of the Market Place to close what has become known as the ‘gap site’.
Since then no progress has been made and recently Mr Lavery wrote to the new Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis, expressing his concerns that the company appeared to have quietly shelved the plans.
“The company not only responded very quickly to my request for a meeting but listened intently to the concerns of local people that I was able to convey to them,” he said.
“Eight years ago nearly 100 per cent of people attending a public meeting to find out about the potential re-development of the site at the corner of Bedlington Market Place, were fully behind the plans.
“However, eight years on nothing has happened and they want to know why and what the company’s plans now are for the site.
“They feel that it not only remains something of an eyesore but a wasted opportunity to bring much-needed investment into the centre of the town.
“Local shoppers were also looking forward to improvements to the Tesco store itself which has a dated shop frontage store facing on to Bedlington’s attractive Market Place, and also the dilapidated aspect of its rear entrance.
“A long steep ramp leading into the back of the store from the car park provides a difficult access for the elderly, disabled people and mothers with prams and buggies and needs addressing.”
“Hopefully, we can go forward from here and quickly revisit plans for the ‘gap site’ and for improving the store,” he added.
Tesco spokesperson Mark Thomas, said: “I was grateful to meet Mr Lavery last week to discuss our site in Bedlington and to listen to the feedback that the community had given Mr Lavery.
“Following this meeting, we’ll provide an update on the site very soon.”
Mr Lavery’s office has started an on-line campaign which people can support, urging Tesco to carry out planned improvements in Bedlington.
To sign the petition, visit www.ianlavery.org.uk/tescocampaign