Gravesham MP Adam Holloway wants Marks and Spencer to stay in Gravesend but believes the solution is simpler than tempting bosses with future development plans.
“Those that can afford to should try to use it more if we want to keep it open,” he said. “If they went, it would be bad news for the town, particularly given the Heritage Quarter plan for a shopping centre is looking increasingly like it’s from a fantasy world.”
He feared news that Bluewater was set to expand would discourage Heritage Quarter developers Edinburgh House from pressing ahead with their planned shopping centre, adding: “They’ve got planning permission to build their little flats but it may turn out they can’t build their shopping centre."
People continue to drop into the Messenger offices to sign our petition, or adding their names to the online version. It has now topped more than 800.
Another petition opposing the proposed closure of Marks & Spencer has attracted more than 600 signatures.
Gravesham councillor Tanmanjeet Dhesi (Lab) and other members of Gravesham Labour Party, were in the town centre on Saturday morning to collect signatures against the closure. It is planned to have another signing session this coming Saturday.
Cllr Dhesi said: “The proposed closure of this popular shop has sent shock waves through the local community. I have collected signatures for various petitions before but I have never experienced anything like this.
“People were actually queueing up to sign the petition and we collected over 600 signatures in about three hours.
“It just goes to show the depth of feeling that local residents have about the closure of this very popular shop which has been operating in Gravesend town centre for 100 years.
“We hope that, together with the petition organised by the Gravesend Messenger, M&S will realise how much Gravesham people care about this shop and will reconsider their decision to close it.
“Marks is part and parcel of Gravesend and the town would not be the same without it.”
Cllr Dhesi, who is the Gravesham cabinet member for business and the community and Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Gravesham, added: “It is sheer folly for M&S to close their Gravesend store at a time 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, footfall and businesses in the town centre”.
Cllr Dhesi popped into our office in Gravesend High Street on Friday to sign our petition, which has now topped 800.
M&S, in New Road, has been based in Gravesend for more than 100 years and has become an institution in the town.
But bosses announced on Monday, June 2 that to bring the store up to the same standard as other branches around the country would not be “financially viable” and are proposing to shut it instead.
It would be a massive loss not only for shoppers but also for the town centre, with Marks & Spencer representing one of the few big names left.
And all just months before a multi-million regeneration of the town begins.
It is a loss the Messenger does not want to accept without a fight. We are campaigning to keep M&S open and have created a petition that we urge you to sign.
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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