Supermarket in helensburgh centre? – lots of us …

Comment posted RIP Helensburgh town centre: Waitrose out of town location approved by Andrew Reid.

supermarket in helensburgh centre? – lots of us will continue to shop at our big co-op

Andrew Reid also commented

  • mitigation and carrots – I do believe that more appropriate words would be anxiety and local elections

Recent comments by Andrew Reid

  • One real issue and some strange arguments against Cove Community Wind Farm
    The focus of the For Argyll article is a local community with a reducing population of children, and adults of working age – schools threatened, and with little local employment or affordable housing. The article appreciates that the community Is trying to sustain itself and bring about improvements by using a natural energy resource in plentiful local supply, i.e. the wind. Although there are different opinions on every wind farm planning application, Cove Community Wind Farm has gained majority support from peninsula residents in all tests of public opinion. There is a complete spectrum of personal views from pleasure to offence in the surrounding area about the visual impact of the proposed development. The very detailed Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment submitted with the planning application reaches the conclusion that there would be moderate adverse visual impact across Loch Long, and this professional opinion was also reached by the National Park officers, who wrote the Report submitted to the National Trust Board, albeit the Board took a different view. Within the range of opinions, the view taken in the For Argyll article that the Peninsula and Loch Long exist within an environment, which includes industrial bases and built structures, seems entirely legitimate. The article also makes the entirely relevant point about renewable development being an essential response to climate change. Finally, the article properly asks what alternative there is to raise the same level of funding for community investment? The Community Development Trust and its 400 members have not found any alternative, and will continue to pursue what they see as the best approach to fund community development from which 100% of the “profits” would be used for the benefit of local communities.
  • Labour seek review of Scottish Ministerial Code – but why now?
    Unfortunately, For Argyll seems to have missed the letter which was printed in the Sunday Herald on 11 November, a week after the article to which For Argyll refers. Although the letter was written by Fiona Wilson, Scottish Government Head of News and therefore might normally merit a degree of scepticism , I have not seen the facts challenged since then, and they may explain why the Labour Party reduce the pace on that particular issue. The letter printed in the Sunday Herald said:

    “I write to correct claims in your article (How ministers rewrote the rules to hide lack of EU legal advice, News, November 4). The Ministerial Code was not rewritten in an attempt to avoid questions raised by Catherine Stihler MEP in relation to an independent Scotland’s place in the European Union, as opposition parties had claimed. You report that “the code was rewritten in December [2011]“. This is incorrect. Changes to the code were initiated by officials in April 2011, prior to the Scottish Parliament election. Ms Stihler’s Freedom of Information request was not submitted until May 2011, by which time the draft text under section 2.35, that the Sunday Herald highlights, relating to “the fact that legal advice has or has not been given”, had already been amended by officials. The Scottish Information Commissioner considers appeals based on the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act. The Ministerial Code is for the guidance of ministers in their conduct. These changes had no impact at all in the commissioner’s consideration of the Stihler appeal.

    There are certainly worthwhile stories and comment on the accuracy of recent ministerial statements and the way that opposition parties are going about their business currently. But, the particular story about changes to the ministerial code may well not be worth pursuing any further.

  • Public meeting on inspirational Cove Community Wind Farm
    The Rosneath Peninsula West Trust Board has actually been concerned to consider how to share the benefits of Cove Wind Farm income, and is at the point of meeting with representative bodies in neighbouring communities to talk about its external community benefit policy and the overall development. If we can deliver this project, we believe that the whole peninsula will benefit.
  • No Tiree Array on basking sharks, night time visuals and divergent wind subsidy regimes between Scotland and Westminster
    A very recent New Statesman piece highlighted that the decision, libdem achievement and DECC public relations spin were not all that they seemed.

    ‘Who runs Britain’s energy policy?

    ‘A smaller cut in wind power funding comes at the cost of a commitment to decades more of dirty and expensive gas.


    ‘Who runs Britain’s energy policy? We have a Department of Energy and Climate Change – you might think from their name that they do. Or perhaps it’s Chancellor George Osborne’s Treasury that calls the shots? Now you’re getting warmer.

    ‘This week’s announcement by the Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, that he had secured only a 10 per cent cut in wind power funding, was heavily spun as a victory for the Lib Dem-run department. Given that the Treasury had been demanding 25 per cent cuts, this seemed a victory indeed – but one with a huge hidden cost. Because, as payment for this victory, Davey has been forced to quietly concede to another of the Treasury’s demands: a commitment to decades more of dirty and expensive gas.

    ‘We know this to be the Chancellor’s wishes, because on Monday someone leaked a letter – effectively a ransom note – that he had sent to Davey outlining his position. In it, Osborne demanded that the Energy Secretary issue “a statement which gives a clear, strong signal that we regard unabated gas as able to play a core part of our electricity generation to at least 2030 – not just providing back-up for wind plant”.

    ‘Acceding to this outrageous demand would mean seriously jeopardising the UK’s fight against climate change. As the Government’s independent advisors, the Committee on Climate Change, stated in response: “This would all lead to a second dash for gas. This would be incompatible with the government’s climate change goals.”

    ‘But on Wednesday, DECC dutifully trotted out a press release stating that “the Government… is today confirming that it sees gas continuing to play an important part in the energy mix well into and beyond 2030”. Some victory.

    ‘The exchange has also highlighted the hypocrisy of the Treasury in its assessment of what merits public subsidy, and what must go without.

    ‘Osborne stated in his letter to Davey: “While your proposals [on renewables funding] achieve some savings we will still be paying more than £500m more to support renewable generation in 2013-14 than we collectively agreed was affordable”. No-one disputes that as technology costs come down, public funding for renewables should decline; the renewables industry itself was offering up 10 per cent cuts.

    ‘But wait; what’s this? On Wednesday, as DECC announced its cuts to renewables funding, the Treasury simultaneously unveiled £500m of tax breaks for offshore gas drilling. What’s unaffordable to spend on clean energy suddenly becomes eminently affordable to spend on drilling up the dirty stuff.

    ‘Enough is enough. The Chancellor must be prevented from undermining the UK’s green economy – as the CBI recently stated, it’s one of the few parts of the economy still growing. A high-carbon energy system will lock the UK in to a high-cost as well as high-polluting future. So in whose interests is the Chancellor acting?

    ‘It’s now up to David Cameron and Nick Clegg to back their Energy Minister over the Chancellor. They should insist that the Energy Bill includes a target to decarbonise the UK’s electricity system by 2030 and unlocks support for clean British energy. The alternative energy strategy that George Osborne would have us follow is a dirty and dangerous dead end.’

  • Crown Estate Commissioners hang on like limpets to Scottish rights
    Good to see that you are still pursuing and publishing on the Crown Estate. But one variation from the article. The Crown Estate’s Annual Report and Accounts do provide material for the whole UK under each of its main budget areas. Its Scottish Report provides data about Scottish income and expenditure under the same budget headings, so it is possible to analyse its performance in Scotland on its own and against the position for the UK as a whole. A year ago I created an Excel table to complete a Scottish/UK analysis and comparison for 2001 and 2011, and will update that with the 2012 figures – happy to provide that to anyone interested in the statistics if they e-mail me on:;

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42 Responses to Supermarket in helensburgh centre? – lots of us …

  1. Too right that ‘no one wants to see Helensburgh die on its feet’, but could there be other factors involved in the decline of the town centre? Only last week the boss of Sainsburys (probably aiming at the planners) suggested that town centres abandoned by the retail sector should concentrate on residential uses, and – however brutal and self-serving that suggestion – he was probably right, for some places. Maybe this will be a wake-up call for Helensburgh – it’s slightly off the beaten track, maybe not much more than a Glasgow commuter suburb disguised as a town? – and unfortunately has become cut off from fellow communities on the shores of the lower Clyde. That’s the impression I get, as an outsider.

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  2. I presume there will now be a planning inquiry as has happened several times before. So it’s not over yet.

    I think Robert’s assessment is fairly spot on and I speak a a lifelong Helensburgerite.

    I also think tht pronouncing the death of the town centre is premature–it all depends. Castle Douglas has an edge of town supermarket and the town centre is thriving, whereas in Dumfries, things are not so good.

    What has to be bourne in mind on both sides I that a significant number of Helensburgerites dont use the town centre at all: so instead of ranting about “unfair” competition, maybe time to think about how to persuade those people to change their minds.

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  3. Your prognosis for the town centre is dire indeed. It is not one that is shared by many residents of the town. We may have been dazzled by the smooth talking salesmen from Waitrose and blind to the catastrophe which you suggest will befall the town. It is a pity that the clear sighted majority, which you claim exists, did not turn out in numbers at the hearing todaay, and tear the rose tinted glasses from our eyes.
    A more positive vision for the town is now that something is happening, we are getting a new food store for which the public have waited many years, a new pool and leisure centre is promised, the town square is to be revamped and the west esplanade is to be given a facelift. Surely there is something to celebrate in that.

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    • Those who wished for and worked for the decision taken today are now obligated to work to demonstrate that this will indeed rejuvenate the town centre.

      You will be judged on the success you are confident you can achieve.

      And, in the interests of Helensburgh, we wish you well, without equivocation, in proving our prognosis wrong.

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  4. No inquiry allowed. It has been approved with conditions. As long as the applicant accepts the conditions, it will go ahead. As far as I am aware, the only thing that could stop it now is if someone decided to take the decision to a judicial review or if there was a reason for the Scottish Government to call it in, both of which are now unlikely.

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  5. One interesting thing I was told today at the hearing from one of the Waitrose supporters I have known for years (but have not met for some considerable time).

    There are now people in Helensburgh who objected to the CHORD proposals (and whose voices were ignored by the ConDemAll administration members), who are now seriously considering standing as candidates against the three Helensburgh town centre ConDemAll councillors who supported the CHORD proposals.

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    • And so they should. That part of the CHORD project which relates to Colquhoun Square is both desecration of a lovely square and a recipe for snarled up traffic in the town centre.

      It was ironic to hear Mars Mulvaney supporting Waitrose and arguing that the town centre would be ok, when his ‘kinky road’ project, as it is known locally, will provide a far greater threat to town centre retailers.

      In the light of the Waitrose decision, the council now has a perfect reason to halt the CHORD project for the square and begin a re-examination of what should be done in the town centre in the light of the new circumstances.

      I for one will not be voting for Councillor Mulvaney or the other two in May. Let him go back to his weekly Toyota photo call in the Dancevertiser!

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    • Sensible decision at last from the council. There were ever only two sites for a new supermarket and petrol station (both of which Helensburgh badly needs) – the Waitrose site or the top of Sinclair Street. A supermarket at the pierhead would be Helensburgh’s volcano – better bury the town centre in lava!
      I fear CHORD will destroy the town for retailers – better reconsider and spend the money making the pierhead attractive.

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    • It’s easy to grump about the Co-op, but despite the muttering it does serve Argyll pretty well – and I don’t think I’m imagining it to say that it’s improved its ‘offer’ steadily over the years

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      • I have got to say I think the Co-op is one of the most depressing places you could possibly shop in and I only do so once a fortnight. The other week I shop in Dumbarton. Don’t get me wrong I do support the town centre shops, I greatly believe in supporting local businesses, but I think the Co-op needs a wakeup call!
        I know people are worried about Waitrose coming to town, but I think it will be a good thing in the long run, the town desperately needs a new supermarket and petrol station and I do think it will encourage people to spend and keep there money in the town. The trouble in the past is that the council take so long to make a decision and then end up doing nothing.

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    • There remains the issue of their professional planning officers’ recommendations.

      Who would put planning decisions in the hands of the first fleet of woodentops rushing to approve it today?

      That’s exactly what has been done.

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      • I take it that the obvious incompetence and corruption (Dance) at play in this decision, combined with the rejection of professional planners advice, is not grounds for the Scottish Government to call it in?
        That’s the only chance Helensburgh has now.

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  6. I think it is great news. The Co-Op service is awful and Tesco simply doesn’t stock what I always want, hence I receive a weekly online shop from Sainsbury’s Great Western Road branch. Least with a Waitrose, I can contribute more to the local economy and may have a reason for visiting Helensburgh other than Coast and catching the train to Glasgow and beyond. Wake up Helensburgh residents!!!

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      • The Co-op needs to smarten its act up, its just like visiting a concrete jungle, the building looks tired and in need of modernisation. The inside was meant to have had an upgrade a few years ago, but I think they must be joking. The staff need to go on a motivational course,
        because they always look depressed, but then you would working in there! You never see the shop manager either, I think he just keeps his head down in case he gets complaints from customers.

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  7. Seriously? As someone who took the matter seriously enough to be there, your representation of the day’s events is at best partial and probably disingenuous. Of the 400 attendees, I would estimate that (conservatively) estimate that 90% were vociferously in favour of the development. The Planning Officer’s objection (that the area was classified for a different class of business usage, and that it used land earmarked for, erm, business use )were correctly weighed against the requirementto allow the people of Helensburgh an alternative to Tesco amd the Co-op and to grow another 180 jobs in the town.

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  8. Having read this website for many weeks, it often makes me angry. Newsroom/editor seems to be firmly in the camp of those who tell us what is best for us and what we need – not what we like and what we want. Beware of what you wish for. Lincolnshire communities are now against town centre supermarkets having watched them effectively killing town centres. I understand the Portas shopping report cites the mix of shops for a High Street success or not.
    At least my friends and I will not have to trek to Dumbarton once a week. I don’t mix coffee breaks with the weekly shop I prefer to get the freezer/fresh food straight home. Oh and the rest of the week I do use the local shops.

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  9. vivienne dance and ellen morton would be at the front of the mob if was a stoning. andrew nisbet – blocks town centre supermarket and then opposes waitrose. lib dems cover both options. unsung hero is james robb who got mitigation ramped up – dance was willing to sell out for £12k. overall a victory for public opinion.

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  10. If the dots get joined correctly i.e The CHORD Project, Waitrose Development, Pier Development, Kidson Park and Rhu Marina Developments then there is a real chance Helensburgh could well become a destination station for locals , visitors, tourists etc and the prize could well be a vibrant , buzzing town that will have something for everyone.

    In my ten years living in Helensburgh I have been overcome with the negativity surrounding any proposed changes whilst the town declines at an alarming rate. The time for change is now otherwise local business wont have to worry about ‘out of town’ influences as the continued transformation to a bland featureless desolate desert will more than likely attract few interested parties.

    Planning and change rarely satisfies 100% of the people but surely the proposals on offer have the ability to generate a better future and town for all of us or play the honesty card , return heads to the sand and pretend that it will be all right.

    ‘Change is Constant’ so all aboard The Happy Bus and let’s make it a better and happier town to live in and promote.

    It might just work you know!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  11. Totally agree Mr McCallum,as far as I could see, there was always a big support for Waitrose’s application and I, for one, am delighted at this development.
    Currently, Helensburgh residents travel to Dumbarton for ASDA or Morrisons (or even M&S)- this might keep that business and more in the Town. Our local shops may even benefit ?????
    Another Petrol station ? Oh, yes please !!!

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  12. Well I am not happy about the Waitrose location, I think it is the wrong place and it WILL have an impact on the town centre that will be far outweigh the 860k bribe that they were foreced to pay. People will lose jobs, and businesses will close down, this will take time, probably about 5 years from now, and you may live to regret it. The prices at Waitrose are actually inline with the Co-OP so there will not be any saving there, although you can’t argue with having more choice on offer, however I wonder if people have fully thought this through.

    If Waitrose is a big success and this closes down Tesco and the Co-OP because of lack of trade then we are going to be left with two empty properties. The Co-OP in particular is a very large space to fill and it is unlikely that anyone other than another supermarket would pick this up. If say Asda or Tesco were to take it over, and transfer the staff then that would be great, but what happens if they dont? The staff in the Co-OP and Tesco will lose jobs and any increase in employment will be negated if that was to happen, so effectivly we will be just as bad as we are now.

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    • It is not about Waitrose v the Co – Op or Tesco it has to be about the bigger picture and overall job creation so yes maybe there will be earlier losses but overall growth through joined up development has to equate to enhanced opportunity.

      As for the Co – op site why just a supermarket, why not Halfords or another High Street retailer Gap, Next M&S, great location , center of town, super parking arrangements, train station adjacent etc. Big Picture is required and why shoot for the moon when we should be shooting for the stars and then let us see where we fall.

      Think Big, Think Positive – Think We can do this!!!!

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  13. David McCallum. Get real, this is Helensburgh we are talking about not somewhere like Dumbarton or Clydebank. If any of those clothing retailers would locate anywhere first, it certainly would not be Helesburgh. There are plenty of locations in Dumbarton that they could use but none have tried to open up there, and with there being a much bigger pool of people in Dumbarton it would make much more economic sense. The Co-Op building would be way to large for somewhere like Halfords or next or GAP anyway.

    Robert Wakeman. I think it is alwasy a possibility about to much trade being lost that it cannot be ruled out, however Waitrose is not known for good value for money so this is quite unlikely to happen. There is more chance that people will return to the Co-Op and regret allowing Waitrose to come to town in the first place.

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  14. siting Waitrose in east Helensburgh will not increase football to the town. Nor will it create new jobs. As the consumer spend is finite all it means is that some money spent in Helensburgh but more likely in Dumbarton will now be spent in Waitrose.

    Consequently any jobs created at Waitrose will result in fewer jobs in Asda and Morrisons in Dumbarton.

    bearing in mind that Dumbarton is the third poorest area in Scotland is there not a moral imperative on us to support Dumbarton where the loss of up to 180 jobs will have a devastating effect on these families who in all probability struggle much more than most Helensburgh families?

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  15. If Lochgilphead Co-op is mostly cheaper than Waitrose then Waitrose must be very expensive. I suspect that the quality of Waitrose own brand goods will be far superior to that of Lochgilphead Co-op.

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