Wednesday 26 November 2014

Corporate vandalism

Times are a' changing on the high street. Household names which we all grew up with, such as Woolworths, are no more, and there is a growing likelihood that there will be a shakeout among the big four supermarkets which for so long have been accustomed to getting whatever they wanted, helped along by government and naive and fearful councils.

Sainsbury's recently announced in a roundabout sort of way that they would not be going ahead with plans for a new superstore in Cardigan, despite previous repeated assurances from their top men that everything was on track.

Now there are question marks over their plans for a new store in Cross Hands, as you can read in this week's sizzling South Wales Guardian.

Just as in Cardigan the store group has been saying that everything was fine, and just as in Cardigan the development includes a new health centre and petrol station. Now it seems that the store group is reviewing the project.

Kevin Madge, whose reverse Midas touch is becoming legendary, reckons it's a done deal, and he must be praying that it will go ahead because he invested a lot of political capital in this scheme, including the notorious Sainsbury's press release fiasco (see here for a potted history).

Sainsbury's legacy in Cardigan is nothing short of a scandal. The controversial scheme divided the town and caused massive disruption while the site was being prepared. A gigantic earthwork was constructed for the supermarket, a lot of trees were felled and an extensive new road system put in. The entire site is now abandoned and desolate, a monument to corporate greed and local government stupidity.

Less than a mile away stands the town's existing Tesco store which responded to Sainsbury's plans with its own ambitious expansion scheme. Nothing to do with the threatened opening of Sainsbury's of course, just a vote of confidence in this small west Wales market town.

Purely by coincidence, Tesco's expansion plans also appear to have been quietly shelved, the unofficial word being that the site suffers from stability problems - just like the proposed Sainsbury's site, in fact. Cynics might think that Sainsbury's no-show has more to do with it.

Either way, the two supermarket groups have behaved like rival bands of gangsters, battling for control over the town, dividing the community, wasting millions of pounds of somebody's money and then heading off back east, leaving what has to be one of the biggest cases of corporate vandalism ever seen in this part of the world.

1 comment:

Redhead said...

Fine developers with current planning permissions who landbank them so much per day ... watch things move!