Fenland MP Steve Barclay has branded Tesco’s previous promises about the Chatteris store as “worthless” – and claimed it would be difficult to believe anything they told him in future.
He said news that the supermarket was no longer going to open in the town, with the loss of 250 local jobs, was disappointing to many people in the community – particularly given repeated assurances from Tesco that it would be advertising jobs this spring ready for a summer opening.
The MP for North East Cambridgeshire said he would now be liaising closely with Fenland Council and Tesco to try to find alternative occupiers for the store as soon as possible, given the importance to jobs of this site being used.
He 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.
“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 were 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.
“Clearly these assurances were worthless.”
Mr Barclay said since the announcement that the store would not open, he has spoken with Tesco’s group property director Steve Rigby, who told him there would be no restriction placed on any competitor occupying some or all of the 47,000 square feet Chatteris store.
He said: “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.
“I will now liaise closely with Fenland District Council and continue speaking with Tesco to push for the site to be found alternative occupiers given the importance to local jobs of this site being used.”
He added: “The Tesco site in Chatteris is also important as part of ongoing discussions I am 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 as soon as possible.”