Aldi store fight goes public

Edinburgh protesters match discount giant in planning dispute

John Lee of the Scottish Grocers Federation discusses the planning proposal with members of the public.

EDINBURGH Premier retailers Dennis and Linda Williams and their allies have struck back at plans to bring a large discount supermarket to their doorstep with an event aimed at persuading locals to ‘say No to Aldi’.

After learning in February that the discounter had been named preferred bidder for a plot of land just a few yards from their Edinburgh store in the city’s Oxgangs district – which many had expected to be used for affordable housing – the Broadway Convenience Store owners teamed up with local MSP Gordon MacDonald, the Scottish Grocers Federation and others to mount a campaign to defeat the proposal at the planning stage.
Hundreds of signatures were gathered by in-store and online petition. And last month, following a public consultation event run by Aldi where the German-owned discounter argued its case, the campaigners responded with their own public event at the local library.
5,000 leaflets were sent out, inviting people to come along and urging them to register their own objections to the plan.

Right, Linda Williams makes her point.

On the day, over 100 people came to hear the arguments against the proposal, with 98 leaving feedback forms expressing support for the ‘Say NO to Aldi’ campaign.
SGF public affairs manager John Lee, who was present, said: “SGF is committed to supporting Dennis and Linda in their impressive campaign. We need to protect local retailers.”
Carolyn Lincoln, a member of local community group the Fairmile Head Association, said she is concerned about the impact Aldi might have on businesses in the local shopping precinct.
“Oxgangs Broadway Precinct has been at the heart of the community for decades and has always provided a very good service to local people,” she said.
“It’s a very good place for older people, which Aldi isn’t.”
Her husband Brian added: “This land is ideally placed, I’d have thought, for affordable housing. I don’t see a local authority’s role as the promotion of supermarket chains.”
Other residents worry about increased traffic and potential parking and access problems.
But support isn’t absolute.
Outside the meeting Peter, who described himself as a local resident and business owner, said:
“Shopping habits are changing because wages aren’t rising and something has to give. Those are the realities and to say because of where you live you should be denied access to a certain type of shopping is simply unfair.”
Aldi told Scottish Grocer that feedback received during its own consultation revealed that the overwhelming majority (75%) is in favour of the proposals.
“It is also worth noting that the majority of Broadway shops and other local businesses are largely supportive since they see store plans bringing footfall and creating opportunities for their own businesses,” a spokesman said.
A decision on the planning application is expected later this year.