23 APR 2012

Greg says "Disappearance of grot spot should kick-start town centre renaissance"

As one of Tunbridge Wells' worst grot spots disappears for good with the re-opening of the new Morrisons store, MP for Tunbridge Wells, Greg Clark, called for the rest of the town centre to be put under the spotlight.





Following the official opening of the Morrisons store, MP for Tunbridge Wells, Greg Clark, said:

"I firstly want to congratulate all the staff at Morrisons who have transformed this grot spot into an attractive building and worked so hard to get it ready for opening day.

"I also want to thank the whole community for campaigning so hard to get the store re-opened. Particular credit must go to the local Tunbridge Wells Twitter and Facebook users, and to councillors who gathered signatures from over 4,000 households in central Tunbridge Wells. It just goes to show how much can be achieved when a community works together.

"It is important that Morrisons recognises that it is part of the town centre community and that a successful town centre is in everyone's interests. We have some superb independent traders in the town centre like Sankeys fishmongers, Rooks and Speaights butchers. I hope that more people shopping in the town centre will provide more customers for them.

"Finally, word should go out to the owners of the cinema site as to how forceful people power in Tunbridge Wells can be. We are all fed up with years of dereliction on this site – it is a real eye-sore - and the time has come for the new owners to make progress and to work with the public rather than behind closed doors."

Photo showing before and after development of new Morrisons store



Commenting on the local campaign to remove this grot spot, Greg Clark said:

"People in Tunbridge Wells were outraged that Morrisons had kept this prime site boarded-up over the last 5 years, blighting the town. Its boarded up doors and windows directly opposite the railway station has been a bleak and depressing sight for visitors arriving at our beautiful town as well as an eyesore for any resident using the station. The building had become a grot spot – regularly attracting graffiti and the car park has been periodically a focus for criminality.

"Enough was enough last year when a competitor supermarket asked the Borough Council if they could bring the vacant site into use but Morrisons refused to surrender its lease. I called for a face-to-face meeting with Morrison's Chief Executive in August which resulted in him re-thinking his position, and a local petition got over 4,000 signatures which added weight to the campaign. The local on-line Twitter and Facebook community also played an invaluable role putting pressure on Morrisons to change its mind and in September, the company finally relented and announced that it would re-open a store by Easter 2012.

"By working together, the local community has been able to transform one of the grottiest parts of town into a very attractive area and just shows what people power can achieve."

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