Fears for family business if new Co-op goes ahead

PUBLISHED: 16:02 18 November 2013 | UPDATED: 16:02 18 November 2013

Staddons on Exeter Road. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 0564-40-13SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on Photo Orders.

Staddons on Exeter Road. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 0564-40-13SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on Photo Orders.

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The co-owner of a family-run post office and stores in Halsdon says the business could be forced to close if a new Co-op store is opened in Exeter Road.

The supermarket chain has applied for planning permission to open its fourth store in Exmouth on the site of Staddons Garage.

East Devon District Council was due to rule on planning permission this week.

However, members of the council’s development management committee delayed their ruling in order to first carry out a site visit.

This decision came after they were addressed by Yvonne Parsons, who owns Rivermead Post Office and Stores with her husband Tom, son Philip and daughter-in-law Carole.

She told councillors: “With a large shop such as the Co-op so near to us, our shop could be forced to close. The Co-op will take the cream off our profits and leave us with very little to survive.

“We are the only post office left [in Halsdon] without going into town. [My husband and I] are retired. Philip and Carol run our shop with three staff. With the closure of our shop five people would be out of work.”

Ward councillor Pauline Stott supported Mrs Parsons’ concerns, adding that Hulham Road Stores and even the Exeter Road Shell garage could also be threatened by the new store.

She also raised concerns about traffic levels, adding: “The Shell garage opposite has 100 vehicles an hour in summer. If you’ve got some of them trying to turn right it’s going to be absolute mayhem.”

When the committee discussed the plan several councillors, led by Exmouth councillor Geoff Chamberlain, said they wanted to reject it on the grounds of supporting the post office.

However, they were told by officers that this could not be supported by council policy, meaning that the Co-op would almost certainly win an appeal. Councillors were also told they could not object on highways grounds as Devon County Highways had backed the scheme.

With no way of supporting refusal, councillors therefore decided to conduct a site visit in the hope of meeting a Devon County Highways officer there, in order to raise Cllr Stott’s concerns about traffic.

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