Campaigners have sent a message to supermarket giant ASDA about the state of buildings the chain owns in Todmorden - it’s pants!
A special protest was organised that saw a string of pants adorning the former Abraham Ormerod Centre on Burnley Road, which together with the neighbouring Olympia cinema site has planning permission for an ASDA store.
The campaign group Todmorden Time for Change say the aim is to persuade ASDA and other local landowners to take responsibility for the poor state of their buildings and sites in the town.
Mary Clear, from the Time for Change group, said: “We got an absolutely fantastic response and a mass of signatures, although we haven’t had chance to count them all yet.
“We had 14 people out with pads and everyone we met was enthusiastic.
“I think people understand that although there are three sites we are complaining about it wouldn’t be difficult for them to clean them.
“For a multi-national company to do this just isn’t on. My message to ASDA would be if they are going to build on it, then flatten it, and if you are going to hang onto the land, flatten it.
“Make it a space for people until you are ready to fill it.
“They should just do the right thing.
“When Prince Charles came on a royal visit five years ago, some of the market traders expressed their concerns because ASDA said it was definitely going to build that year.
“ASDA said they would look after the town. But they haven’t, they’ve let down a whole community and broken their promise.
“ASDA can be assured that this is only the beginning of our protest.
“Just because it’s David v Goliath they can’t be allowed to wreck our little town.”
A spokesman for ASDA said there were some conditions in the planning consent that required sign-off from Calderdale Council and the company was working with the council on these.
In the meantime, they would tidy the site, he said.
“We have to treat any demolition with sensitivity due to the conservation issues on the site and we will be seeking to discuss this with the council in due course,” he said.
Adam Entwhistle, from Todmorden, who helped organise the pants protest, said: “It’s a slightly jovial protest but there is a serious undercurrent.
“ASDA owns this whole site and they haven’t done much with it for a while now.
“We would like to see an eyesore in the middle of a beautiful town removed.
“We said we didn’t really want another supermarket in the town. We’ve got a Morrisons, a Lidl.
“We’re more about small, independent businesses that are stocking locally produced goods and help our local economy regenerate.
“I’m sure ASDA is wanting to improve its public relations and one way of doing that would be a community asset transfer of the land.
“Let’s knock it down and start again. Let’s create something new and beautiful. It’s not a bad piece of land. We’re right in the middle of town. What it is now is just a bit pants.”
Dr Lindsay Smales, professor of urban design and community planning, who lives in Todmorden, said: “Many local residents are tired of waiting for them to develop the site.
“They recently got a revised planning application which included a petrol station but they’ve not done anything with it.
“We are tired of decisions on the future of the town being made elsewhere.
“But we had a very positive response at the weekend.
“The campaign is about taking control of what happens in our town as best we can.”
Other sites highlighted as being of concern include that on Halifax Road, Todmorden, next to the health centre, and, further down the same road towards Hebden Bridge, the former Cinderhill site, which has planning permission for homes to be built.
The campaign also backs moves for Calderdale Council to use legal powers it has to compel landowners to at least tidy highly visible sites.
The group is concerned sites like these are having a damaging effect on Todmorden’s economy and appeal to visitors.