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More than 2,000 people sign petitions to persuade Marks and Spencer to keep Gravesend store open

More than 2,000 people have now signed petitions to try to persuade Marks and Spencer to keep its Gravesend store open.

Bosses of the high street chain announced plans to close the branch earlier this month, declaring bringing the store up to standard would not be ‘financially viable’.

M&S has been based in the town for more than 100 years and employs 63 people, all of whom, the company said, would be offered roles at other stores.

Cllr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi with petition and team.
Cllr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi with petition and team.

Gravesham council was due to meet store chiefs this week to air the view the store should not leave, something council leader John Burden described as “irrational”.

As well as a petition organised by the Gravesend Messenger and signed by more than 1,000 people, Gravesham council’s business boss Tan Dhesi organised his own, gaining 1,000 more.

Cllr Dhesi said: “It is sheer folly for M&S to close their Gravesend store when so many business opportunities are on the horizon. For example, the planned Paramount Park and the new garden city at Ebbsfleet will generate investment and footfall in town.”

Grandmother-of-one Vera Purll, 93, who we featured in last week’s Messenger, is continuing to gather signatures around the town and she had already gathered another page of signatures.

Vera Purll, 93, outside Marks & Spencer, New Road, Gravesend
Vera Purll, 93, outside Marks & Spencer, New Road, Gravesend

At a full council meeting last night (Wednesday), Cllr Dhesi was challenged to carry out an urgent review into reinstating free parking on Saturdays.

Speaking before the meeting, Conservative group leader John Cubitt said: “The council has enough money in its reserves account to immediately bring back free Saturday parking.”

Council leader John Burden’s meeting with M&S was soured, however, with news that the Heritage Quarter redevelopment could be on hold for up to six months.

You can sign the petition at our offices at 7 High Street, Gravesend (we're open weekdays, 9am-5pm) or click on this link http://chn.ge/1kJT4O8 and it will take you straight through to the online version.

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