You promised to invest eight years ago - isn't it about time you got started? Plea to Tesco as town left in limbo.
Byline: Brian Daniel North Northumberland reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
ANORTHUMBERLAND MP has accused a supermarket giant of leaving a town in limbo by failing to fulfil its promises to invest heavily.
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery said Tesco has not delivered on multi-million pound pledges to Bedlington.
Eight years ago, Tesco promised a redevelopment of its store and to build new retail units as well as an enterprise centre of 15 high quality offices.
But none of the developments have materialised, prompting the MP to demand a meeting with Tesco's group chief executive.
Mr Lavery said: "The situation is a hugely disappointing one for everyone concerned, particularly given that when originally passed by planners this scheme was heralded as the biggest single investment in the history of the town. The failure to progress this development leaves Bedlington in a state of limbo."
Mr Lavery said the supermarket's multi-million pound package would have seen them expand and modernise their store, which fronts on to the town's Market Place.
At the same time the company offered to close what had become known locally as the "gap site" at the corner of the Market Place by building new retail units beneath an enterprise centre providing up to 15 high quality offices for small businesses in "a prime location", he said.
A public meeting saw huge support for the plans, and in 2008 and 2010, The Journal reported on similar pledges from the company.
In 2008, Doug Wilson, then the company's corporate affairs manager, said: "Everybody who filled in a questionnaire said they were in favour of our proposal.
Not only will we be creating a muchimproved store, but the project will also spearhead a revival of the town which everybody has been telling us is long overdue."
Two years later, Mr Wilson said: "We are delighted to put forward this planning application.
"It means extra jobs and an improved shopping experience for people living in the Bedlington area. It will also play a key role in the continuing regeneration of the town."
But four years down the line, and Labour MP Mr Lavery has written to Tesco's new group chief executive Dave Lewis expressing his concerns that the company's plans seem to have been "quietly but permanently" shelved.
He has asked for a meeting with Mr Lewis to discuss what he calls the "sour taste" left in the mouths of local residents and businesses who were supportive of Tesco's plans.
"The failure to progress the development leaves the undeveloped gap in the centre of the town's Market Place as a continued eyesore in what is otherwise an extremely attractive tree-lined main thoroughfare through Bedlington.
"Many people were also so looking forward to the proposed development providing much-needed new office and retail space for small local businesses and that has not happened either.
"It is my belief that Tesco has an obligation to the people of Bedlington to review its plans for the store and the wider town centre, because failure to do so will have far reaching consequences for the town.
"I would welcome a meeting with Mr Lewis to discuss a potential way forward on this dilemma."
When contacted, a spokesman for Tesco said he was unable to comment at this stage.