Crawley councillor writes to Morrisons boss over £20k pledge to revamp shopping parade

Cllr Michael Jones SUS-140728-172030001
Cllr Michael Jones SUS-140728-172030001

A Crawley councillor has written to the CEO of Morrisons calling on the retailer to give £20,000 to help renovate a shopping parade.

Michael Jones, Crawley Borough Council cabinet member for Community Engagement, urged the CEO to reverse a decision to withdraw the supermarket’s contribution to the Broadfield Barton Improvement Project.

Mr Jones (Lab, Bewbush) said: “£20,000 is a drop in the ocean for a company like Morrisons, who would not give a second thought to spending this on a few seconds of a commercial.

“This amount of money for the council, however, in this era of crushing government cuts, is a big deal.”

Mr Jones said Morrisons withdrew £20,000 it had committed to the project after it closed its store in the parade earlier this year.

The decision has delayed the scheme. The council’s cabinet has agreed to give an extra £50,000 to cover the £20,000 and costs caused by the delay and ensure the revamp would go ahead.

Morrisons has been approached for comment but has yet to reply.

The council and businesses in the shopping parade will invest more than half a million pounds to the renovation. Works include repaving, replacing the exiting canopies, lighting and improving the CCTV system.

Canopy replacements were expected to begin this autumn. Paving works could be completed by spring 2016.

Mr Jones said in the letter to David Potts CEO: “Given that the original amount requested for the capital expenditure from Morrisons was only £20,000, I would ask that you speak to your colleagues and change the decision made, so that Morrisons do the decent thing and re-instate the contribution that they had previously agreed. While the council and the local taxpayer will not be put back in the position they would have been had you funded this for the amount at the time it was originally agreed, it would at least demonstrate that your company had the will to make a difference to the local communities like Crawley and Broadfield you operate in, and would provide substance to the rhetoric that one can read on your website, about how this is one of your company’s values.

“Even if doing the ethical thing does not convince you, you will be aware that despite Morrisons’ withdrawal from supporting Broadfield Barton, your company still has a considerable period of time left on the lease of the unit you vacated, which remains empty. In addition, the units for Superdrug and Iceland are ones that you sub-let under the terms of the original lease.

“I would therefore submit to you that it is entirely in your commercial interests to at least make the contribution you originally agreed towards the Broadfield Barton improvements project, as you have a continuing financial interest in keeping your existing tenants’ businesses remaining to pay their rent, and also that a regenerated Broadfield Barton may also assist your colleagues’ efforts to fill the vacant unit caused by your store withdrawing from the Barton.”

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