Public opinion favours Asda as supermarket debate rages on

MORE people would prefer to have an Asda supermarked in Banbridge than a Tesco Extra at Bridgewater Park, according to a Leader poll.

Half of those who voted on the Leader website said they would welcome an Asda store off the Newry Road, while only 41 per cent would favour the Bridgewater developer’s application to build a Tesco near the Outlet.

The results of the poll - which received almost 2,000 votes between last Thursday and yesterday (Monday) - showed that eight per cent of people think Banbridge can support both applications, while two votes said neither supermarket should get the go-ahead.

The news that the decision to approve planning permission for a Tesco Extra store at Bridgewater Park is to be reviewed by a judge prompted a raft of opinion to come flooding in to the Leader.

That, coupled with the words of an Asda spokesperson who said they would likely withdraw their plans to build in the town should the Tesco approval stay in place, has fuelled a debate among the district’s residents.

Here are just some of the comments made on the Banbridge Leader Facebook site:

Kelly McClimond said, “Banbridge needs Asda to keep Tesco on its toes. Tesco is so expensive and will remain that way until it has competition.”

A number of other people agreed with Kelly - stating that an Asda would be preferable to Tesco to ensure competitively priced goods.

Hayley Russell said, “No Tesco, just an Asda to make prices more competitive. I don’t care about Tesco coming, their prices keep going up and up. I think local people would benefit more from an Asda and should push to get it. However Bridgewater Park does need something to make people want to go to it. Every other shop has closed down. They would have been better with a shopping centre with the likes of primark etc in it. There is nothing worth buying in town - that’s why i do all my shopping online.”

Lynsey Bailie said, “Asda should not pull out. There is no call for Tesco to build a bigger store at Bridgewater Park.”

But Damian McAleavey is convnced there is room for both major superstores.

He said, “Every other large town in the country has both, why can’t we? Both have their own merits and place.”

Many people said they feared for the future of the Outlet and all development at Bridgewater Park if investment isn’t made soon.

Ian Clyde said, “It’s very simple - if Bridgewater Park doesn’t get investment, it’s finished. I think I counted over 30 empty shops in the Outlet last week. As for Banbridge the traders that are afraid of competition need to realise that competition is healthy and gives people choice. It’s up to the traders to compete with the competition and try and get the share of the extra customers competition brings. I personally back them all (the traders) and don’t wish bad on any of them. I just think they are being led by a very biased organisation in NIIRTA. I just see so much potential for our town but are being held back by NIIRTA.”

Drew Gregg, a long-standing supporter of the development of Bridgewater Park, said, “Remember the BIG picture up at Bridgewater Park - it is not just Tesco but also a new Retail Park, new industrial and commercial park plus hotel, petrol station and office accomodation.

William McCahon said, “The Outlet will only grow if a major supermarket moves there and the only major supermarket proposing to do so is Tesco, the talk about Asda is pie in the sky. If Tesco gets the go ahead then other large companies will quickly follow resulting in hundreds of jobs for local people!”

Neil Reid said, “Everyone wants a strong thriving economy in our district, providing choice and value for money for all. Introduce some healthy competition, bring new jobs and we will all benefit.”

Commenting on the Leader website Leanne Burns hit out at local traders on the issue. She said, “I believe it is about time the traders should step aside and give the people of Banbridge the decision on these. It is time there was competition in Banbridge. Banbridge is too expensive to shop in, that is why I shop in surrounding towns. I believe Banbridge should be given a chance to grow without the same old people holding it back.”