Peterborough MP calls for ‘taskforce’ to revitalise city shops after John Lewis closure

Peterborough MP Paul Bristow has called for the creation of a taskforce to revive city retailers in the wake of the John Lewis closure.

By Paul Grinnell
Thursday, 25th March 2021, 3:08 pm
John Lewis at Queensgate in Peterborough. EMN-210324-140931009
John Lewis at Queensgate in Peterborough. EMN-210324-140931009

He is urging civic and business leaders to take action to support John Lewis staff, fill the void left by the department store’s departure from the Queensgate centre and support all city retailers as they reopen after the lengthy lockdown closure.

The call comes after John Lewis bosses announced yesterday they would not reopen their Queensgate shopping centre, in a move that puts 318 staff jobs at risk.

The closure has been declared a ‘disaster’ for the city centre, which will lose a leading retail attraction pulling in a multitude of shoppers.

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Peterborough MP Paul Bristow. EMN-200721-155726001

Mr Bristow has written to Peterborough City Council chief executive Gillian Beasley, and the council leader, Councillor John Holdich and states: “I would like to propose a task force meeting with you and the heads of the Queensgate Shopping Centre, Opportunity Peterborough (the economic development company), Peterborough Positive (the business improvement district) and the Towns Fund board.

“This will allow us to put a strategy in place.

“I want us to consider how we can support staff and partners who find themselves out of work, and if other retail businesses in our City can offer employment opportunities.

“We should begin to think about what can be done to support Queensgate to fill the John Lewis units.

“Finally, what can we do to support the reopening of retail in Queensgate and the City Centre on April 12, and get footfall for local businesses?

He adds: “The John Lewis Partnership’s decision to close its store should not be seen as judgment on Peterborough.

“I am confident in our ability to recover, but this can only happen by continuing to work together.

And he states: “I know you share my concern about the announcement yesterday that John Lewis intends to close its Peterborough store.

“This is distressing news for its partners and staff, but it will also leave a big hole to fill in the city centre.

“We need a plan to ensure that Peterborough’s recent progress is not derailed.

“The investment and regeneration being led by the City Council through the Towns Fund gives us the wider opportunity required.

“We also face the specific question of how we ensure that Queensgate can adjust and prosper.”

The John Lewis closure will end the retailer’s presence in Peterborough, which stretches back 39 years, when the Queensgate centre was first opened.

Mr Bristow said: “Yesterday was a time for sadness and reflection.

“Now is a time for action and positivity.

“We all need to come together and be part of Team Peterborough.”