£800k from Sainsbury's 'will not aid Wadebridge town centre'
TWO former mayors of Wadebridge have claimed an £800,000 cash windfall from Sainsbury's will do little to aid town centre trade.
Steve Knightley and Elliot Osborne were members of the negotiating team which discussed how Wadebridge should benefit from a financial package that the retail giant had agreed as a condition of its planning approval for the new store.
But the two former town councillors say the final document does not reflect what was asked for, and most of the money will benefit Cornwall Council and Sainsbury's itself.
"The majority of the £821,250 will be managed and spent by Cornwall Council with very little of the total being made available to the town council or the chamber of commerce, and the money will not benefit existing retailers as it was designed to do," said Mr Knightley.
"The Section 106 agreement includes £240,000 to divert existing bus services to the new Sainsbury's store, and £40,000 to carry out work to the existing cycling facilities on Gonvena Hill, so how does that mitigate any loss to the retailers in the town?
"It actually takes trade away from the town and it looks as if all roads will lead to the new store," he said.
Mr Osborne is also concerned that £5,000 will be spent on cycle parking at the new store and Cornwall Council will receive £120,000 to fund a shoppers' parking scheme.
Mr Osborne said: "This 'scheme' or scam as we see it, allows a shopper to obtain a ticket at the proposed store that allows them to park in the Cornwall Council car parks at Goldsworthy Way or Piggy Lane at a discounted rate, to encourage linked trips from the new store to Wadebridge town centre.
"This is totally against the wishes of the original negotiations where the expected outcome was to see subsidised parking in the town centre with no obligation to go to the store first. We see this having a wholly negative outcome for the retailers in the town."
A further £55,000 will be used to display town centre marketing boards – placed in Sainsbury's.
Mr Knightley said: "Most of the monies either benefit Sainsbury's or Cornwall Council.
"In our opinion it is clearly not being spent in the spirit of the negotiations and will not have the desired effect.
"Wadebridge town councillors and the chamber of commerce negotiated the best deal they could for Wadebridge.
"We now feel totally let down by the final document written up and signed by Cornwall Council."
Wadebridge Chamber of Commerce chairman Sarah Prosser said a local working party would be set up to scrutinise exactly what was being offered in the Section 106 agreement.
"Our main concern is that the whole purpose of a S106 is to mitigate the effect of an out-of-town development on our town centre and so our first step has been to write to the council asking for clarification on how it feels its proposals answer this.
"We want to ensure that the money allocated is actually spent on benefiting Wadebridge."
Cornwall Council said Sainsbury's planning obligation met all the criteria laid down in the Community Infrastructure Levy.
"The planning obligation covers matters such as transport, including traffic surveys, town centre parking, training, as well as town centre marketing and management contributions. The covenants will help the town centre to benefit from linked trips," said a spokesman.