Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The night Woolies died

Quite ironic that less than an hour after Woolies went into administration the Nairn Ward Partnership were to meet just across the road from the Nairn store in the Courthouse and discuss the town centre redevelopment plan. It seems both Somerfield and the Highland Council are putting a brave face on it and moving towards January when, hopefully, outstanding issues can be addressed. And that is? Well something called ‘purifying the title’ on the Council side and preparing a ‘Green Travel Plan’ on the Somerfield side. The Trunk Roads Authority still need to make an input too. Yes they are working hard behind the scenes but as we know there are other factors that will come into play soon and the Co-op seem not to be in the slightest bit interested in letting the Council know what is their ultimate intention with the Nairn store and as for dealing with the folk at Somerfield - well they are a business sitting on death row, they will quite happily fill in the time talking to anyone who still takes them seriously. We’ve heard it all before really, the rest you can make up for yourself in the meantime, maybe someone will market a ‘Strictly Nairn town centre redevelopment’ game for Christmas. The real fun comes in 2009. Sheena Baker asked her usual question about what would happen once the town land was finally handed over to the supermarket owner and say, they didn’t build a new supermarket? Her big worry is that this might happen and there would be no way that Nairn could get the land back. Reading in-between the lines of the response she got from officials the Gurnmesiter reckons that would be it, the land would be gone for good out of public ownership.

There were also council officials giving talks about how community groups can apply for funding, very complicated stuff and you must meet the criteria and have matching funding etc, the Gurnmeister got very bored with it and after the discussion on Somerfield and a bit about other developments that didn’t really reveal anything new, another gentleman in a suit got up to deliver a presentation. The Gurn made its excuses and left. You can get too much of all this 'masterplan' stuff, this wish list stuff, this A96 corridor stuff, this meeting in Edinburgh stuff. Fair play to anyone that stayed the course, the Gurn salutes your courage.

Never mind the Somerfield saga, tonight please spare a thought for the woolies staff who will come down the street tomorrow to an uncertain future and wondering even if there will be anything left in their pension fund. There were billions available for the banks – will the government give anything to help the 30,000 woolies staff?


Anonymous said...

Ithink its got to the stage of saying,"would the last person out,please turn out the lights, (not the christmas ones please).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the report of the meeting Craisg. It sounds sounds as though the future for development of the Somerfield site is still very much up in the air. I wonder as to how long Somerfield will be able to operate as a company, and how appropriate is it for them to be involved in future planning debates when clearly they (Somerfields) have a limited shelf life.
Concern about the site becoming an investment opportunity rather than an operating supermarket is justified, Tesco as a company make more money on land deals than through their supermarket doors.
The message seems to be wait and see but don't hold your breath!

Anonymous said...

Sad times indeed for the High Street.
Tell me I always look on the bright side but it sounds there still is some hope for Somerfield's/Co-op site.

Some interesting thoughts on shopping and planning over at Newsbleat

Anonymous said...

If our government of Westminster are so happy to help out the banks who have put their hands up to making major life threatening business decisions, why can't it also invest in a High street stores? Woolies would make an excellent addition to what is now our (The public) portfolio, and if ministers are looking for new kitchens and bedrooms for all the new public housing maybe MFI would also be a great asset as well? This promises to be an endless list of potential companies we the public could own.
Its a pity supermarkets seem to be doing not too badly or the citizens of Nairn could maybe demand that one of those is bought by government as well.
State ownership, shades of the hammer and sickle if you ask me comrades
I wonder how Railtrack is fairing - next on the list?