Representative of Asda seemed under-prepared when they addressed the Beeston Community Forum on Thursday (5 February 2015).
Representatives from Asda and their PR company, the appropriately named Hard Hat, had come to inform residents that work was underway on the new store on Old Lane which is due to open on 13 July this year. However, members of the Forum are still upset about ‘broken promises’ made by Asda and its representatives when they first applied for planning permission for the new store.
Asda originally stated that opening hours at the new store would be 7am to 10pm. Beeston Forum withdrew its objection to the store on the promise that these hours would not be extended. Having gained planning permission on this basis, Asda submitted further applications to extend the opening and deliver hours and add a petrol filling station.
Although their request for 24 hour opening was refused, store hours have been increased to 6am-midnight, Monday to Saturday and 10am-4pm on Sundays. Delivery hours will be 6am-11pm Monday to Saturday and 7am to 10pm on Sundays.
One resident said “We can’t do anything about the petrol filling station now, but will Asda please reconsider these operating hours?”
Other residents threatened to boycott the store and it was pointed out that Asda boss Andy Clarke had recently been appointed an ambassador for ‘responsible business’ by the Business In The Community organisation. It was suggested that Mr Clarke should attend the Forum and explain his company’s actions.
Cllr Adam Ogilvie said he was “flabbergasted” that the Asda representatives were unaware of the strength of feeling. He said had met Asda on several occasions and told them that the planned changes were opposed by local people.
Laura Harrison from Hard Hat and Andrew Gowler, Asda’s regional manager said they “could only apologise” for the poor communication and promised to take the Forum’s issues back to Asda for a formal response.
They did clarify that the existing store will close from 31 May and that the route of delivery lorries would be via the Tommy Wass junction and not from Town Street. Asked if they were putting in a pedestrian crossing as part of the works on Old Lane they said they weren’t aware of a crossing in Asda’s plans.
Closing the discussion, Chair Christine Thornton said she “hoped for a better working relationship with Asda in the future.”