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TIMELINE: Waitrose finally opens doors in Sidcup
WAITROSE has finally opened the doors to its Sidcup store this morning.
After years of campaigning from Bexley Council and Sidcup residents, Old Bexley and Sidcup MP James Brokenshire and council leader Councillor Teresa O’Neill welcomed the first shoppers into the store at 8am.
The store’s 50 new recruits all live within six miles of the store and were chosen from more than 300 applications received by the supermarket giant.
Cllr O'Neill told News Shopper: "It’s fantastic - the council has worked very hard to turn our high streets around and they are now thriving.
"We got Waitrose and we are bringing people and investment into the borough.
"Within the next couple of months there will be 50 new jobs there and they are all local people; 10 of them were long-term unemployed.
She added: "This is changing people’s lives for the better.
"It really is lovely and the shop front is nice.
"Someone said to me last week there’s a real buzz in Sidcup high street and people aren’t saying things like that about Orpington and places like that."
Store manager Rob Chivers added: “We are very proud to become part of the community in Sidcup and are looking forward to playing our role in ensuring the high street remains the primary destination for local shoppers.
“Our policy is very much to recruit as locally as possible so it’s fantastic that we have been able to welcome so many Sidcup residents to our business and to now be investing in helping them to further develop their skills.”
But Labour councillor Sean Newman said: “I welcome business and jobs coming to Bexley but if the Conservative council put half the effort and resources they put into attracting Waitrose into tackling the housing crisis in this borough they could do something positive for the tens of thousands of residents across Bexley."
A look back at the campaign to bring Waitrose to town:
March 24, 2011: Application is heard and approved by the Bexley Council planning committee.
March 25, 2011: Plans are submitted by Bexley councillors for the partial demolition of the Black Horse pub and Carpetright store in Sidcup High Street and the creation of an 84 bedroom Travelodge Hotel, small Waitrose supermarket and two retail units.
April 15, 2011: Planning permission granted for the development.
May 8, 2012: Waitrose pull out of the development, stating: “We’re sadly no longer confident we’d be able to make our planned involvement commercially viable in the long-term.”
May 16, 2012: A News Shopper poll reveals 87 per cent of voters want the supermarket to open.
May 18, 2012: Council leader, Councillor Teresa O’Neill, MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup James Brokenshire and Bexley Council cabinet member Councillor Linda Bailey meet with Waitrose executives and are told plans have been “put on hold in the short term.”
July 7 & 8, 2012: Bexley Councillors rally support and signatures at the Danson Festival.
November 19, 2012: Bexley Council say they are still hopeful a Waitrose could come to Sidcup, and are sure it would be a “big success.”
September 4, 2013: Waitrose opens its doors to the public.
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