Traders on the Leeds Road parade at Oatlands have been hit by ongoing roadworks associated with the new M&S Simply Food store. When they met local MP, Andrew Jones, they were keen to work with the new store to promote the ‘Leeds Road family’ of shops. Mr Jones undertook to write to Marc Bolland, the Chief Executive of M&S, on behalf of the traders.
Mr Jones has now received a response from M&S and it is a thumbs up for working with traders to ensure that Leeds Road returns to being the vibrant shopping parade it was prior to the roadworks.
In his letter to Mr Jones, Tony Ginty, Head of Public Affairs at Marks and Spencer, says:
At M&S we pride ourselves on being active partners in the local communities we serve. That is why we are keen to engage with the local business community once we have officially taken responsibility and ownership of the store in the summer. I would be happy to be contacted at that point to help facilitate a meeting between local M&S representatives and your constituents.
Welcoming the proposal Mr Jones said: This is a very positive step forward. M&S seems to recognise that it is part of a wider solution to the problems that local traders continue to face during the construction period of the new store. The willingness of such a large and internationally renowned brand to engage with the local business community is to be applauded.
I am though concerned that we don’t miss any opportunity to promote the local stores alongside the new M&S. I have written back to M&S therefore asking that a meeting be held prior to the store opening. This is so the local independent shops on Leeds Road can be part of that launch and benefit from the publicity the opening will undoubtedly attract. Following the very positive initial response I am hopeful that M&S will be similarly receptive to this call.
Mr Jones also wrote to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) which determines the level of business rates for shops. Mr Jones has argued that the disruption over such a long period of time means that the business rates should be temporarily reduced because of what is called a ‘Material Change of Circumstance’. A meeting will happen today (30 April 2014) between representatives from the VOA and the Chair of the Oatlands Traders group.