I don’t work for superstore developer but if he wants me then I’m free says ex council leader Fred Brown

A SUPERSTORE planned for Soham could easily double in size and become a major regional retail outlet, says former East Cambs Council leader Fred Brown.

He described planning policy at East Cambs District Council as “never on the button” as he called for the 41,000 square feet superstore at Soham to be approved.

“It has the potential to be more successful than any Ely store and is flexible enough to double in size,” he said.

The Cambs county and Littleport town councillor, said: “I think support in Soham for the new store is very high and it is long overdue. It is not for people such as planners in their ivory towers to say what people want.”

He claimed the Soham Masterplan “is only a guide to what people wanted at the time. “It is quite obvious there is the potential for this new site to come forward. Planners have a professional opinion of course but what they do is down to policies of council members”.

He described Fenland developer Richard Sears who is behind the Soham scheme as “having canvassed long and hard and got most people in the town behind him.

“What else can he do? The truth is that if a horse likes hay you don’t feed him oats.”

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Cllr Brown said he had met Mr Sears several times to discuss options not only for Soham but also for Ely.

He said he did not work for him “but if Mr Sears wants to employ me then I would be happy to be employed by him. I have had discussions with him on locations in Ely for possible other supermarkets.

“If he wants to gain from me what views and connections I have made then so be it. “There are no skeletons in my closet and I want only what is best for Ely.”

He said he passionately believed the market should be allowed to decide such issues as supermarkets “and if you’ve got the money, you do a judgement and you do it. It is not for a planner to decide what is good or not in terms of a supermarket”.

Cllr Brown said 80 per cent of ‘the spend’ in Soham was going to Ely or Newmarket but what was needed “is what is best for the punters on the ground.”

He said East Cambs had 100 or so restaurants, dozens of estate agents “and the council doesn’t give a fig. East Cambs Council is impotent when it comes to stopping food outlets or charity shops yet now they want to stop someone building a supermarket- I don’t think they can justify that decision.”