Royston Morrisons closure: Parking discussions take place in push to save supermarket

PUBLISHED: 14:51 18 August 2020

Royston's Morrisons store. Picture: Archant

Royston's Morrisons store. Picture: Archant

Danny Loo Photography 2016

Sir Oliver Heald and North Herts District Council are holding discussions regarding supporting car parking improvements at Morrisons in a bid to keep it open.

David Brown has worked at Morrisons in Royston for two years and started a petition to try to stop bosses from closing the store. Picture: Courtesy of David BrownDavid Brown has worked at Morrisons in Royston for two years and started a petition to try to stop bosses from closing the store. Picture: Courtesy of David Brown

The discussions have come after the North East Herts MP held a meeting with the supermarket chain’s boss to press the case for saving the Baldock Street supermarket.

He pointed out the importance of the supermarket to the town centre – including the quality of the staff and their excellent treatment of elderly shoppers, and the fact that the store is well situated for people who live in the town – and offered to help with any issues which might assist the company to continue at the site.

Chief executive David Potts explained that the landlord, Unilever Pension Fund, was negotiating in a fair and constructive manner but said that the company is considering closure because of trading conditions at the store.

Sir Oliver – who lives in Royston – recognised that it is clearly important that the store has adequate footfall and discussion took place as to whether the parking arrangements could be improved to help shoppers.

The MP asked NHDC to discuss this with Morrisons – he also agreed to press for a continuation of the current business rates holiday.

Sir Oliver said: “This is an important store for Royston town centre and I have now had separate discussions with Morrisons’ head of assets, Michael Lambert, and the chief executive, David Potts, and I will continue to press the case.

“I hope that it may be possible for NHDC to discuss the parking arrangements with the company as well.”

Cllr Paul Clark, NHDC’s executive member for planning and transport, said: “We were saddened to hear the news that Morrisons in Royston has announced it is closing its doors. As the largest town centre store it will be a loss to residents. NHDC is in discussion with MP Oliver Heald as to any support we are able to provide, including the current parking arrangements. With regards to the car park, NHDC manages the use of the car park on behalf of Morrisons. We do not own the car park, the supermarket building, or the land on which the car park and supermarket are built, and have not been involved in any recent property transactions here.”

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The Crow has contacted Unilever Pension Fund for further clarification about the lease of the building and the land, but has not received a response.

The Crow has also asked Morrisons whether the petitions signed by thousands of residents, and the MP’s involvement in flagging potential improvements is likely to have an impact on the decision to save it.

A spokesman responded: “We had a conversation with Sir Oliver and we continue to look at all options during the consultation.”

The Crow has contacted Unilever Pension Fund for further clarification about the lease of the building and the land, but has not received a response.

The Crow has also asked Morrisons whether the petitions signed by thousands of residents, and the MP’s involvement, are likely to have an impact on the decision to save it.

Arrington’s David Brown, who works at Morrisons part-time and amassed more than 600 signatures on his petition in two hours standing outside the supermarket, said: “Free parking for customers would be a good solution, that would draw people to the store and help those less able.

“People who are able to park at the council car park along the road do so anyway as it is half the price.”

David also praised the Royston community and Sir Oliver Heald for the progress made so far.

He said: “The people of Royston have responded really positively and that shows what people power can do – it shows that people can get together and change things.

“I was impressed and honoured in how quickly Sir Oliver got back to me and how he’s taken this on for the people of Royston and I wish to thank him for what he is doing.”

A Morrisons spokesman told the Crow: “We had a conversation with Sir Oliver and we continue to look at all options during the consultation.”


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