Traders slam plan to boost jobs and shops

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Angry Stocksbridge traders have blasted Sheffield Council for drawing up new plans for the town which they claim will drive business away from their shops to a retail park of multi-national giants.

The Stocksbridge Development Proposal, passed by cabinet last month, promises to ‘boost not only employment, but also the town’s retail offer’.

Councillors also reaffirmed their support for established plans for new shops and houses to help Stocksbridge recover from the decline in the once-thriving steel industry.

The scheme will be run by the Stocksbridge Regeneration Company, an organisation formed by private firms Dransfield Properties and Gallagher Developments.

The company wants to build 139 homes, offices, a supermarket and other shops, alongside new investment in the steel works.

Councillors backed the scheme, promising to help buy land and support an application for European grants, and said it was vital ‘every effort is brought to bear to ensure its delivery’.

The Federation of Small Businesses think the development will drive money into the pockets of retail giants.

Tracey Martin, who runs the Works Lunchbox, said: “Local traders have tried to keep the town alive for years without any European money, despite the large companies who owned many of the buildings in town preventing them from being taken over by small independents and keeping them empty.

“It seems somewhat unfair that the council should seek to bid for grants to enhance the fortunes of incoming multi-national retailers whose sole aim will be to take trade away from the locals.

“Had they shown similar concern for attracting investment in existing businesses, it would have been possible for local shop owners to improve and expand their operations years ago and brighten up the town centre.”

Andrew Flower, FSB South Yorkshire branch chair, added: “Neither the council nor the Stocksbridge Regeneration Company has made any concerted effort to offer support to the existing business community. We feel this is a critical oversight.”