Sidmouth shopping centre closure rumours

RUMOURS circulating that Sidmouth s Indoor Shopping Centre is to close and be replaced by a new Tesco store, were rubbished this week by its manager.

RUMOURS circulating that Sidmouth's Indoor Shopping Centre is to close and be replaced by a new Tesco store, were rubbished this week by its manager.

Talk that stallholders were on notice to vacate the premises were denied by Keith Farnes, manager for 12 months.

He said: "As far as I know it's a big rumour. I would have been the first to hear if that was happening."

He believes the story may have been started after it was announced the clothes shop in the centre would close at the end of the year.

"One end of the shop- on High Street- has big closing down signs and I think people are putting two and two together and coming up with five," added Mr Farnes, who has run the pet shop in the market for seven years.

It had been suggested the indoor market would be replaced by a new Tesco store or a health centre.

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But a spokesperson for Tesco said this was definitely not the case and Rob Spargo, practice manager for Sidmouth Health Centre, added: "I know nothing about the market closing and we have no plans to consider it as a possible site for a new Health Centre if it should it be put up for sale."

The town's rumour mill has been working overtime. Tim Ford was quick to deny his Alexandria Road former call centre site was being taken over by the supermarket giant Morrisons.

He said figures of �4-7million had been bandied about, but emphatically added: "There is no truth to the rumour, we have not sold out to Morrisons.

"East Devon District Council's planning department is chasing me to take down the sign (advertising the former call centre premises). No-one wants to rent it. These are rumours, I am not in negotiations.

"I have 65 staff I am trying to keep in jobs. We are doing everything possible to keep them and are fighting the recession in whatever way we can."

QS store, which has a closing down sale, has been in Sidmouth since 1984. Staff in the shop understood it was closing at the end of December, however a spokeswoman from QS's head office said: "We are in lease renewal negotiations. That's all I can say."

Threshers wine shop is also closing, the company a victim to the recession. Staff had not heard whether it had been taken over.

On a positive note, the empty Woolworths' shop has been transformed by M & Co and businessman Richard Eley has opened a shoe shop in an empty Mill Street premises.

A wine merchant is hoping to open in the former Sidmouth Herald office.

In its autumn newsletter Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce comments on the state of shops during the recession.

It says: "The general perception is that Sidmouth certainly remains an attractive place to live, and in which to do business.

"There is no room for complacency, of course...business has to retain and develop a relationship of trust with the local population and their elected representatives."

The Chamber will try to develop a marketing plan to complement efforts already being made.

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