John Lewis Peterborough closure ‘a disaster’ - political reaction
The closure of Peterborough’s John Lewis store has been labelled as “devastating” and a “disaster” for the city.
Shailesh Vara, MP for North West Cambridgeshire, said: “This is devastating news and a huge blow to the many people who will be losing their jobs.
“It is sad that the reprieve from closure last year has proved short-lived.
“The departure of John Lewis after nearly four decades is not to be underestimated.
“They are a key business in Queensgate, helping to increase the footfall which also benefits many other businesses.
“I very much hope that John Lewis will do all they can to help and assist their staff in terms of providing a generous package and helping people to find alternative employment.”
MP for Peterborough Paul Bristow had written to the boss of John Lewis urging her not to close the Queensgate outlet, and reacting to today’s news he said: “I am extremely disappointed about this decision. I’ve repeatedly pressed John Lewis and have been told time and time again that there was no news about our Peterborough store.
“Dame Sharon White called me this morning, shortly after staff were informed. I asked her how she could justify this closure given the company’s investment in the store and the opportunities within our city.
“This is of course distressing to the 390 partners at the Queensgate store and their families. I will do everything I can to ensure John Lewis meets its obligations to them.
“The partnership’s decision should not be taken as judgement on Peterborough. We have plenty of investment and opportunities coming our way. With the right response and strategy we will repair the damage caused today.”
Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Peterborough City Council, Cllr Nick Sandford, raised the issue of John Lewis at a recent Full Council meeting following reports of store closures by the firm.
He said: “I was told that our MPs and the council were talking to John Lewis. Obviously this shows how little influence they have had.
“I stand by my earlier comment that this will be a disaster for Peterborough, both in terms of loss of jobs and loss of the anchor store in the Queensgate shopping centre.”
Leader of the council’s Labour Group Cllr Shaz Nawaz said: “The announcement of the closure of our John Lewis store was a particularly sad one for me. It had been my favourite store in our city centre for many years and was the crown jewel in Peterborough’s once-bustling retail sector.
“As a Labour and Co-operative councillor, like many of my Labour Group colleagues, I have always championed co-operative values and the positive contribution that co-operatives make to local economies and communities.
“For me, the John Lewis Partnership embodies many of those same values.
“Over the last four decades of trading in our city John Lewis has employed thousands of local people as partners who shared in its many years of success. For the store’s current 318 staff this is an awful turn of events and I hope they will all get the support they need in the months ahead.
“The closure of this store reveals an unpleasant truth, but one that shouldn’t continue to be ignored. That Peterborough is no longer able to sustain this store after nearly 40 years reveals much about the steady decline of local purchasing power in our city.
“For too long now incomes have been stagnating or falling as rents in the city have been soaring, leaving less and less left over to spend in our local retail and hospitality sector. If we are serious about regenerating our city then this is where we have to start.”