SHOPPERS in Newton Stewart appear to be strongly in favour of plans for a new supermarket in the town to “drag it out of the jurassic age”, according to online polls and reports to The Galloway Gazette this week.
The opinion is in stark contrast to last week’s feelings put forward by local fuel suppliers as two of the town’s filling station owners claimed the shop, set for the Barnkirk area, would put an end to town trade.
Traders will have the chance to discuss the matter with CWP, the company behind the plans, on Monday at 6pm in Creebridge House Hotel but shoppers will have to wait until a community council meeting in April.
For now, the general feeling seems to show that locals would like to support their high street shops and garages but simply no longer have the income to allow it.
One reader contacted The Gazette this week to say that Newton Stewart has been left behind in the consumer world.
Martin McCammon from the town said: “When you look at the region, Newton Stewart is the only major town without a Tesco - we have one in Annan, two in Dumfries, and one in each town of Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbright and Stranraer. These towns may have suffered but that would be down to a number of influences that the whole country is experiencing. If anything, I think a big shop would help as it would allow people to buy the basics there and leave them with a bit of spending money afterwards. Now, we’re spending everything we have on basics because we have no choice.
“It seems Newton Stewart is somewhat behind the times here.”
Another reader contacted us via email to say: “I can’t afford local high street prices for food or fuel.
“You can’t buy two chicken breasts in the local butcher for £2 like you can in Tesco. No, they’re probably not as nice but I’m afraid that quality has been dropped in favour of a guaranteed meal in my house lately.
“Our basic living outgoings have almost doubled in five years but our wages have stayed the same. We should be given the consumer choice like every other principle town in this region has! If the local products and services are up to scratch, they don’t need to worry about losing their loyal customers.”
Stephanie Keachie said on the Facebook poll: “Stop the long-standing monopoly Newton stores have, providing poor choice, over-inflated prices and rubbish service. Investment in the area, especially private investment, should never be knocked back. The town is dead and needs serious investment. Maybe this would encourage the likes of M&Co.”
Kara Potter-Smith agreed with: “Long overdue. Let’s drag Newton Stewart out of the jurassic age.”
Holly Gooding added: “The little local shops cash in on the fact there’s nowhere else to go and charge a fortune.”
But some readers disagreed, feeling the store would kill their town.
Gregor Currie said: “You don’t need to look any further than Dumfries to see what out of town superstores do to town centres. Do you really want Newton Stewart to become like that?”
CWP requested Monday’s meeting, which is open to all town businesses, to address concerns. Cree Valley Community Council will welcome members of the public at their 2 April meeting.
James Harbison, representing CWP, said: “We look forward to putting our case to the business community since there has been a number of concerns and some misinformation regarding our plans, for example over the size of the store - since last week’s paper carried comments from a local business claiming the store to be the same size as Sainsbury’s and Aldi supermarkets already in the town - this is simply not the case.
“The Aldi store in Newton Stewart is 18,000 square feet and the Sainsbury’s is 14,000 square feet. Our proposed store will be the same size as Tesco in Castle Douglas, 30,000 square feet, which we believe is the right size for Newton Stewart to stop the levels of leakage caused by local food shoppers travelling long distances to do their weekly food shop.
“Similarly there has been much comment on the proposed petrol filling station and the benefits we see this bringing both for the local community and for those using the busy A75 Euro route in being able to access supermarket fuel prices. However, we also note some opposition to this aspect of our plans and we are currently reviewing our position on this given comments made.
“Meanwhile, it is interesting to see a spontaneous Facebook poll which shows an overwhelming majority in support of our plans. So the debate continues and we look forward to working with the community of Newton Stewart.”
Tell us what you think at facebook.com/gallowaygazette or twitter.com/gallgaz.