I just want a choice of where to shop and when

As the news that Sainsbury’s had pulled out of the Todmorden project was announced, I couldn’t help feeling that as a town, it’s our loss.

The store would have brought choice to shoppers, 150 new jobs, competition and importantly, much needed new footfall into Todmorden. Also, it would have reduced the weekly spending exodus to Halifax or Burnley. And not least, it would have given a much needed facelift to the wasteland on Halifax road.

I wonder how many of the 4000 not-in-my-backyard objectors will continue to jump in a car and drive a 20 mile round trip to Tesco, Asda or Sainsbury’s in either Halifax or Burnley without giving a second thought for the small businesses in those towns that might have suffered in the past?

Of course in Todmorden we have our indoor market which is fine, provided you can shop between 9am and 4pm and don’t need to purchase anything major. Have you been there in the week? More than half the indoor stalls are closed and those that are open, tend to pull the shutters down around 4.30pm.

Not very useful on your way home from work at 5.30pm. For everyday shopping, at hours to suit the customer, the market isn’t really a practical option.

No doubt local traders will breath a sigh of relief at the Sainsbury’s withdrawal, but rather than complain and fight against change, the market traders could do something to help themselves.

How about late night opening, say Thursday or Friday evening when many working people do a weekend shop. The council could abolish the parking charges in the adjacent car park to attract more people visit the market.

Many years ago Todmorden was a busy, industrious, self-contained town. But the days when the high street had a butcher, baker and candlestick maker are gone for good. People’s shopping habits and work patterns have changed. Many commute and arrive back into town long after our high street shops have closed. The appeal process for what was going to be the Sainsbury’s site is still going ahead because the agents selling the land on Halifax Road still want permission to use the site for retail purposes. Todmorden needs to stop living in the past to halt its slow but steady decline and move forward. We live in hope!

What I am hoping for is a choice of shopping venues and products. The Asda project seems to be moving at a snail’s pace and we still have only one major store in town with Morrisons having a virtual monopoly. I simply want a choice locally, of where to shop, at a time to suit me the customer not the shop owner.

Bill Pilkington, Shore,