We can make money from more visitors

Architect Ivor Dibble's plan for a proposed marina and hotel scheme on the Halifax Road gateway site, Todmorden
Architect Ivor Dibble's plan for a proposed marina and hotel scheme on the Halifax Road gateway site, Todmorden

I HAVE been dismayed to read some of the negative comments regarding a proposal for a marina and leisure facilities at the Halifax Road site that’s been ear-marked for a new Sainsbury’s supermarket.

As a Todmorden resident all my life, I find it difficult to see towns of similar size such as Hebden Bridge and Sowerby Bridge thriving from a growing tourist industry, whilst ours goes neglected.

With it’s incredibly picturesque town centre dominated by the town hall and St Mary’s Church, with the historic market, the canal, the park, the sports centre and endless walks and bridleways, and then being located on a main train line between Manchester and Leeds, this town should be a perfect destination for anyone who wants to spend a day out whilst spending their hard earned cash.

If other towns can pull in these visitors, why can’t we? What is it they have that we don’t? I know one thing and that’s that they don’t have four supermarkets.

A new Sainsbury’s will pull in some visitors but only as far as Sainsbury’s car park. Once they’ve filled their shopping trolleys, they’ll be off back down the road to Hebden Bridge or wherever else it is that doesn’t want a supermarket.

Why should we be a town overloaded with these supermarkets whilst our people spend their days making money for these huge chains? How much of that money will be invested back into the town? Why can’t we have a thriving town centre of enterprising small businesses instead of boarded up and empty shops?

When the usual argument is rolled out about the creation of jobs by Sainsbury’s, how many of those jobs will come from Morrisons, Lidl, Asda and the market? Whereas, if a tourist industry really did take off in Todmorden, imagine how many local jobs would be created on the back of it.

I have read some concerns about whether a marina would really be a viable alternative to a supermarket and if I’m honest, I myself don’t have a clue. That would be a concern for any developer who would want to come in and invest their money into the scheme.

But if the alternative is viable and there is a developer out there who would be willing to invest in this, why would anyone allow that land to be developed into yet another supermarket when the alternative is so much better for the town?

Saul Caldwell, Todmorden.