Concern grows over proposed superstore move

TRADERS have issued a rallying cry to protect Ely’s city centre amid fears about a new Tesco superstore.

Ely Traders’ Association said the plans for the new Tesco Extra and an out-of-town retail development had sent a “wave of alarm” throughout the city.

“There are well over a hundred retailers in the city centre and not one would be unaffected by the opening of such a store,” spokesman Andrew Olley said.

They have appealed to East Cambridgeshire District Council leader Peter Moakes to make a statement on how the local authority would protect Ely city centre.

Cllr Moakes has attempted to reassure the group and by telling them: “The District Council would not do anything in any way that would disadvantage the city centre.”

However Mr Olley said the impact of the new developments on some shops would be “immediate and devastating”.

In a letter to Cllr Moakes, he said: “A huge increase in the range of the kind of non-food retail a store like this would bring will hit some key shops very hard.

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“Developers plan to surround this huge store with other retail outlets, restaurants and nearly 1,000 free car parking spaces.

“The impact might be possible for the city to bear at a time when the economy is booming or when there are no other additional pressures brought to bear on local businesses but this is not the case.”

He also dubbed plans to introduce car parking charges at the same time as allowing these developments would be “devastating”, saying: “The impact of introducing parking charges will be immediately apparent.

“It is already very difficult to fill key retail units in the city. What local businesses seek now is reassurance from the leader of the council on how the local authority intends to maintain the vibrancy of its city centre.”

Cllr Moakes has arranged to meet the group on Sunday to discuss the controversial car parking charges.