by Jackie Andrews
It seems strangely ironic that news of M&S replacing Aldi on the site in Church Street Walton should be about a planning application for illuminated signage, since Walton and Hersham are, as you all know, running an ongoing campaign to highlight the stark contrast between rich and poor in our neighbourhood.
Those who are fortunate enough to have a healthy bank balance will welcome the prospect of going to a pricey M&S Foodhall for their weekly shop or just the occasional treat; it will save them a car trip to Brooklands or Kingston. However, others, living on a pension or existing on low wages or reduced benefits (thanks to the Tories) have no other choice but to make a daily or weekly trip to the local cut price food supermarket and Foodbank, and probably felt a collected shudder of apprehension at the story which broke in the local press, rather ominously you might agree, on Friday the 13th.
Both of these retailers are shoddy when it comes to worker’s representation. They have made it difficult for the Trade Unions to organise the workforces into coherent units and to provide a system of collective bargaining on behalf of the staff. We sincerely hope that they will address this situation in the near future. In the meantime strange too that M&S should gamble on opening a Foodhall in Walton when just fifteen months ago Waitrose closed its store in Hepworth Way because, presumably, it just wasn’t profitable. Why? Well we know the answer to that don’t we?
Though it was reported, wrongly we believe, in the Surrey Advertiser that M&S have “owned the site for a number of years and leased the unit to Aldi”, (according to a Walton on Thames Trading Association spokesperson), our enquiries at the Land Registry suggest that the owner of the site is Aldi itself. The shop has been an asset to many of us we think you would agree, though it is small and access to the underground car park and its two small lifts aren’t ideal either.
We hope that if the worst does happen and Aldi decides to go that they are able to reopen another store in the local area. Then we can all continue to benefit from its relatively low prices, especially residents in parts of North Walton and North Hersham who currently rely on it in order to make shrinking incomes go that bit further or make ends meet.
We have until 3rd March to make our comments on this planning application (Ref 2016/4099) on the Council’s Planning website: http://emaps.elmbridge.gov.uk/ebc_planning.aspx?requesttype=parseTemplate&template=SimpleSearchTab.tmplt