Hundreds turn out to support campaign

Hundreds of people joined forces on Saturday to support a campaign to stop a Sainsbury’s coming to town.

Residents were urged to show their support of ‘under threat’ shops in Albert Parade in Old Town and spend £5 in the stores.

The campaign follows the news that Sainsbury’s wants to open a store on the site of The Drive pub, which closed its doors earlier this month.

It has sparked concern that the arrival of a supermarket would damage nearby businesses and also see an increase in traffic in the area.

Residents flocked to Albert Parade on Saturday and as well as digging deep and spending money in the parade, which boasts a fishmonger, butchers, a greengrocer and a baker, they also took part in a photo shoot to drive the message home.

The crowds joined Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd to don their umbrellas to emphasise the message, ‘Don’t rain on Albert Parade’.

Mr Lloyd, an Old Town resident, said support of the day was fantastic, adding, “The turnout of local residents on Saturday for our campaign to stop Sainsbury’s building a supermaket was absolutely fantastic.

“My guess is around 200 people with umbrellas were there to send a clear message to Sainsbury’s, not because it was raining as the sun was blazing away, but what we were telling Sainsbury’s was ‘don’t rain on Albert Parade’.

“I’ve already managed to get Mary Portas to write to the chief executive of Sainsbury’s supporting out campaign which is a real bonus.”

Prior to the events of Saturday a public meeting has been held for residents to air their views on the supermarket coming to Old Town and residents have also gone on to set up the Albert Parade Action Committee and a Facebook group called Keep Albert Parade Special – which has more than 600 members – has also been set up as well as the website: www.albertparade.co.uk.

Community petitions by campaigners and local businesses have got hundreds of signatures opposing Sainsbury’s.

Brian Sheppard, the greengrocer on the parade, previously aired his concerns to the paper, stating, “Albert Parade is a lovely community.

“We all know and support each other and it would be a crying shame to allow Sainsbury’s to just march in and destroy 100 years of history.”

On June 11 a planning application to alter the car park was rejected unanimously by Eastbourne Borough Councillors but the fact that a change of use is not required to convert the pub itself to a supermarket has caused concern among campaigners.

For more information visit the: www.albertparade.co.uk or visit the Facebook group Keep Albert Parade Special.

For photos and a fuller report of the day buy the Eastbourne Herald on Friday.