No closure depressed the people more that the desertion of the City Centre by Marks and Spencer five years ago.
I wrote to them and met their management at the House of Commons. All to no avail. They were unyielding. Their departure to the wastelands of Spytty accelerated the centre's decline. Their return to the Newport Nouveau sets the process into reverse. Their presence at the new Friar's Walk development will add new magnetism to the pull of the new centre. At the time of the closure I wrote this blog:-
Marks and Spencer blow
Marks & Spencer
October 13, 2010
The news that you are planning to close your Newport City Centre store is a devastating blow.
Thousands of my constituents are shocked and upset. I know that your store provides a high quality service and acts as a magnet for shoppers to other businesses. Of course I understand the move to an out-of-town shopping area to cater for the car owning shoppers.
However, thousands of Newport people travel by bus or on foot to use the superbly conveniently located shop. I have had calls from bewildered shoppers who see no alternative to the services that you have long provided. Unfortunately closures of this kind demoralise the shopping public and tear the heart out of the Westgate Square shopping area. This could spur an accelerating decline in retail business in the centre of Newport.
I would urge you to reconsider this decision. You owe an obligation to your Newport customers who have loyally supported you for many decades. I would be grateful for an opportunity to discuss this matter with you in Newport or London.
Below is a typical letter which I received from a constituent.
I was horrified to read that Marks and Spencer are abandoning the Newport town centre. Having worked for them in the seventies, I have always been proud of their ethical and family-like approach to business. Can they really understand the implications that such a move would make to their customers and more importantly, the town we live in ?
Two or three times a week, I walk into town, visit M&S, sometimes have coffee with a friend and pick up a few things in other shops. In M&S I buy foods in a different way to Sainsbury or Tesco. The sell by dates are short, assuring freshness, but it’s impractical for weekly shopping. If the move takes place my visits to M&S will be, sadly, rare and many of my friends are in the same position. Some will use Tesco Express but it will not suit everyone.
Without people like me coming into town on a regular basis, what hope do the local traders have of surviving these difficult times. Without quality stores like M&S it will be twice as hard to entice new business to the town and the shop keepers and café owners will ask themselves how long they can remain.
The elderly and disabled will be hit yet again. From my recollection of visits to the new proposed site, the parking is often inadequate. Even with a free bus many will have to walk to a bus stop, catch a bus then change at the town centre. Coming back with shopping would be a nightmare and the whole process would take most of the day. Valley people would probably desert us completely.
Please do whatever you can to prevent the disastrous consequences of this proposed move.