A new Tesco Express has opened in Horsham - giving 14 previously unemployed local people work.
The new store has been created from the disused pub and restaurant on the corner of Brighton Road and St Leonards Road.
Tesco celebrated its launch last Friday with a donation to Horsham’s Springboard Project, based in Hurst Road.
Nigel Scott-Dickeson, CEO, was invited to cut a ribbon to declare the new store officially open. Store manager, Phill Smallwood and his team presented Nigel Scott-Dickeson with a cheque for £500 as part of its commitment to supporting the local community.
The Springboard Project is a community-based charity that provides ‘Play and Fun for Everyone’ through its inclusive recreational play and leisure opportunities for children.
The charity intends to use the £500 donation to help fund its programme of summer activities and day trips for local disabled children.
Tesco Express store manager, Phil Smallwood, said Springboard is ‘a fantastic organisation that helps and serves our local community’.
He added: “My team and I cannot wait to welcome the new customers into the store and we are keen to ensure that we play a positive role in our local area.”
However the food giant’s move into Brighton Road has not been welcomed by everyone. The proprietor of nearby St Leonard’s Stores says he may be forced to close the convenience shop around the same time of its tenth anniversary before Christmas.
“I’m heartbroken, there are just no words to describe,” Ramesh Rasavallavan told the County Times. He said turnover has been down by as much as 80 per cent since Tesco opened its doors. On Monday (August 12) he said only 15 people came into the store all day.
A noticeable increase in traffic means more motorists are parking outside his shop.
Mr Rasavallavan says he has been forced to turn away deliveries because there is no safe area for vehicles to park.
He was dealt another blow recently when West Sussex County Council refused his application to lower the kerb outside his shop.
“I feel like the local authorities don’t want me here,” he explained.
The shopkeeper says he does not blame Tesco or the community for using it, but is disappointed with both district and county councils.
He thanked his customers for their continued support.
District councillor Godfrey Newman (LDem, Forest) said: “It’s sad for local trade because they’re fighting like mad to keep going and then the big boys move in.’’
His main concern is road safety, and says it was up to county council to object to issues about traffic.
Because it did not object, he said Horsham District Council ‘didn’t have a leg to stand on’.
“Planning laws and regulations pushed us into a corner,” he continued.’’
He said local residents had ‘quite rightly’ objected to it ‘but are now seeing the issues the council faces with these large organisations’.