LETTERS: Pros and cons of supermarket plan

THOSE who support and oppose the supermarket are both right. As a population we should have the right to expect our representatives on the council’s planning committee to act with imagination. Barnkirk is not a suitable location for a new supermarket but there is an ideal alternative. A considerable area of ground is unused in the area vacated by the Grapes Hotel, the Red Cross Hall and the old printworks.

The roads serving this area are substandard and need to be sorted out. A major development with roof-top parking on this site would add greatly to the attraction of the town. Sitting under the bank up to York Road, it would not be unsightly, and those visiting it would be likely to spend time in other retail outlets within our high street.

Mike Binks,

5 Maxwell Drive, Newton Stewart.

So Jamie Wood and other Newton Stewart petrol station proprietors are opposed to the proposed supermarket/petrol station development. There’s a surprise.

Let’s be honest: local fuel prices have been sky-high for years while, in certain cases, in their endeavours to make even more profits, there has been scant regard for the noise and disturbance main street fuel retail outlets create.

Somehow Mr Wood at the Wigtown Road Petrol Station has managed to develop yet another mini-supermarket (Mace) open from 7am until 10pm, seven days a week even incorporating a coffee shop, plus fuel available 24 hours a day all year round. All this foisted upon the local public in the middle of a domestic housing area.

Furthermore, while the rest of us are being urged to conserve energy to save the planet, Mr Wood’s business is lit up like a fairground, day and night. My question is this: given his stated concerns for local traders (“Supermarket objections grow”, The Galloway Gazette, March 2), did Mr Wood pay any regard to the effects his developments would have on existing local businesses when planning his own expansions?

Now a bigger fish has come along to threaten his plans, he suddenly becomes all caring and protectionist. You can’t have it both ways: either subscribe to a free market and live by its murky rules or don’t.

Name and address supplied.

My wife and I have been coming to the Newton Stewart area for nearly 30 years. We always read The Galloway Gazette, at first in print and now online, and were horrified to see the supermarket development proposal.

Newton Stewart is a unique little town with lovely shops and friendly staff, especially the wee gift shop, Laura’s. We were there last summer and Laura was helping an elderly lady with sight problems by reading out verses of a birthday card to her. When the lady left, she helped her across the main road. She then came back and, with her female assistant, chatted and joked with our grandchildren and showed them a card trick while we walked round the shop.

Now all that my grandchildren want to do on holiday is to see Laura and ask if she has another card trick and free pen for them. This is the type of shop that must survive.

As with most small (and not so small) towns the building of an out-of-town supermarket will mean disaster for the main street, with the loss of jobs, the closure of small shops and boarded-up windows. This will impact of tourism as no-one wants to holiday in a town with this problem. There were not many, if any, empty shops when we were last there at Christmas, and something like four food outlets already. The need for another would surely be over-provision.

These big supermarkets promise much and deliver very little. They are out to make a fast buck and disregard everything else, especially the little shops that have been the mainstay of towns for years.

I will be adding my name to the online Stop the Supermarket petition and hope to see Laura’s – and all the other shops I enjoy going into in Newton Stewart – there for years to come.

Martin Jones, by email.

I am astonished that you report strong local support for an out-of-town supermarket for Newton Stewart and I doubt whether the survey is representative of local opinion. I wonder whether those whose comments you published last week have actually shopped in Newton Stewart recently.

It is not difficult to find affordable groceries in a town with four supermarkets, including branches of Aldi and Sainsbury’s, both of which have adequate parking. It is unlikely that any of the other major supermarkets would be significantly cheaper. In addition, we still have good local food retailers, giving us the choice that has been lost in so many other places.

As for fuel, prices in supermarket fuel stations in Stranraer and other nearby towns are rarely substantially cheaper than at garages in Newton Stewart, and it is unreasonable to expect pricing would be any lower at the proposed development.

Having lived in a town (in England) that was blighted by the arrival of an out-of-town supermarket, I can tell you that, far from promoting investment in the town, we risk losing the very local shops that give the town its character. Take it from one who knows – we are lucky in having the best of both worlds, and we have a lot to lose if this development goes ahead.

Julie McGlashan,

Sorbie.