10:30 Monday 21st September 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
PAUL STAINTON: Let’s speak to Chatteris Town councillor Florence Newell. Florence, morning.
FLORENCE NEWELL: Good morning. I’m also a Fenland district councillor for Chatteris.
PAUL STAINTON: OK.
FLORENCE NEWELL: Yes.
PAUL STAINTON: You’ve got a bit of shock breaking news this morning, haven’t you, concerning Tesco’s?
FLORENCE NEWELL: Not this morning. I got it Thursday morning. I got a letter from Tesco’s, signed by a Mr Bryn Woodward, Corporate Affairs Manager, saying that they will not be opening the store in Chatteris, .. “as we announced earlier this year, we are slowing down our store opening programme. We recognise that some people will be disappointed with this decision, and we are very grateful for the support we’ve received in the past.” And “We will keep you updated on our plans.” And they’re going to retain the current hoardings protecting the site.
PAUL STAINTON: It’s built, isn’t it? It’s finished. It’s there.
FLORENCE NEWELL: It’s finished completely. They’ve put a roundabout which isn’t to my satisfaction or to anyone else’s satisfaction. Because the big lorries are having trouble getting round.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes.
FLORENCE NEWELL: It’s on the main A141 road.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. I’ve been past it a couple of times. It was due to open November, wasn’t it?
FLORENCE NEWELL: Exactly. Yes. They’ve put a by-pass under the road, which comes out on a residential estate. They were going to keep that monitored. Now, it’s going to be an avenue for any undesirables that want to gather there. I just don’t see how somebody can get it developed, spend all that money .. and the store is complete .. and then say they’re not opening.
PAUL STAINTON: Any other reaction? Anybody else in the town aware of this yet?
FLORENCE NEWELL: They’re only just beginning. They’re only just finding out, aren’t they? We did have a rumour a little while ago. The town council actually got in touch with the developer and with Tesco’s, to say, and we had an assurance it wasn’t true.
PAUL STAINTON: So they’ve already assured you that they were opening.
FLORENCE NEWELL: They assured the town council that they were opening. Now we’ve got this letter, and why he sent it to me .. I know I was chairman at Chatteris for sixteen years, but that’s five or six years ago. We’ve got a mayor. We’ve got other people. But they decided to send the letter to me. And they also sent this letter to Fenland, and it was put in my pigeon hole, addressed to me personally.
PAUL STAINTON: Right.
FLORENCE NEWELL: But I have now had it opened and passed over to the chief exceutive at Fenland.
PAUL STAINTON: Have you tried to contact Tesco’s?
FLORENCE NEWELL: Oh yes. He rang and spoke to me this morning.
PAUL STAINTON: Right. What did he say?
FLORENCE NEWELL: He didn’t say a lot. He just said that he apologised for sending the letter to me. He thought I was the person to send it to. He’s apologised for sending the letter to me. And than apart from that he didn’t say a lot, because I ranted at him somewhat. (THEY LAUGH) . Because I am absolutely disgusted.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. So it’s just going to sit there. Did he give you any timeframe as to when it might ..
FLORENCE NEWELL: No. I can understand if they want to cut down their opening of their stores, if they haven’t started to build. That’s fine. And they’ve got a lot of areas throughout England that they bought land that they’re going to build on. But I can understand them (leaving them) but not to get to this stage, where the building is complete, and all the extras have been put in. And now to say they’re not going to open.
PAUL STAINTON: Thanks for the call this morning, that bit of breaking news. Florence Newell, Chatteris town councillor, Fenland district councillor, with the shock news this morning that she’s had a letter from Tesco’s saying all the people of Chartteris looking forward to their new Tesco’s well tough. It’s not going to open. It’s built. It’s sat there. The roundabout’s there. The road’s there. The hoardings are there, but they’re not going to be coming down any time soon. That breaking, on the Big Conversation this morning, if you live in Chatteris.