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Shop woe continues in Stradbroke

Stradbroke, Suffolk. Spar Shop in Stradbroke ANL-140608-162611001

Stradbroke, Suffolk. Spar Shop in Stradbroke ANL-140608-162611001

Stradbroke’s wait for a village store is set to continue after its potential new proprietors withdrew their interest.

The village has been without a store since the Spar shop, in Church Street, closed in September.

Pre-empting the potential closure of the Spar last year, a Shop Group of locals was formed in April 2013.

It aimed to work with Blakemore, which owns the lease on the store, to get the shop back into a viable retail operation, explore alternative general store businesses which might come in, and evaluate the possibility of setting up a community-run shop within the village.

It had been hoped the Spar would reopen this year, following refurbishment, by prospective proprietors Damian Royal and Rachael Lambley.

However, Mr Royal confirmed to the Diss Express they will not be running the store and declined to comment any further, but would release a statement in due course.

The village website, www.stradbroke.info, claims the Co-op have “announced their interest in opening a shop in Stradbroke.”

But a spokesperson for the East of England Co-op group told the Diss Express: “The East of England Co-op, the largest independent retailer in the region, has identified a number of potential sites which may offer opportunities to expand its retail estate.

“At this stage, however, we are at an exploratory phase only.”

A planning application is yet to be submitted to Mid Suffolk District Council.

A statement from the Shop Group claims Spar failed to notify the new proprietors of Co-op’s alleged interest in Stradbroke, which led to the pair withdrawing.

It read: “Villagers are obviously disappointed and feel sorry for the new proprietors who everyone thought were going to make a great success of the new store. The village also feels badly let down by Spar and hope that they will now will re-double their efforts to get the store open.”

Jerry Marwood, managing director of Blakemore Trade Partners, said they were looking for a team to run the shop.

“Our preference is that Stradbroke should have an independently run store but if we fail to find some one suitable within the next week or so we may have to consider running the store ourselves - at least in the short term.

“We specialise in investing in stores and partnering with independent retailers to produce great facilities for local communities.”

Don Darling, Shop Group leader, said not having a shop was “a pain in the backside”, with residents travelling to Laxfield and Horham, although he praised the butchers and the bakers in the village for supplying milk, newspapers and other convenience items.

“We are now in a situation where we might have two or no shops because we have not had anything formal from the Co-op,” he said.

While Mr Darling would not be drawn on what the ideal situation for Stradbroke would be, he added: “The village has sustained more than that (two shops) in the past.

“I think it just depends on demand.”

n What do you think? How much do you rely on your village general store?

Email editorial@dissexpress.co.uk or write to us at the address on page 8

n Better news for Stradbroke as key amenity return date is set - turn to page 9

 

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