18 months ago when it was clear that the SPAR was going to close a small group of concerned residents set up a "shop group" to investigate what could be done to ensure Stradbroke would be able to retain a village store. Two avenues were explored; to work with SPAR management to encourage the reopening of the SPAR, to see if the Co-op had any interest in establishing a new shop in Stradbroke. We now have the possibility of having two stores in the village and the Co-op are here to answer as best they can, any questions local residents may have regarding their plans. The Parish Council have also invited the Co-op to come along to their next meeting to discuss their plans and follow-up on the issues raised at this meeting.

Summary of Presentation from Co-op
The aim is to build a small sized convenient store on the old garage site. Formal plans will be submitted for consideration early in the new year. If after the 13 week period for evaluation they are accepted then a new Co-op could be opened before next Christmas. The shop would create an estimated 35 new jobs, most of which would be part time with 3 to 5 permanent staff.
Questions from the floor were then invited. After a general Q&A there would be an opportunity to look at the plans and discuss with members of the Co-op any details on a one-to-one basis.

Questions and Answers

1. A large number of questions and comments were put to the Co-op regarding Traffic congestion and safety in the Queen Street Area summarised below

- Should the Co-op look at traffic flow before going ahead?
- Dangerous to cross the road with increased traffic flow.
- Serious congestion already outside the primary school, you are only going to make it worse
- How are you going to control customer parking?
- How are you going to control delivery lorries?
- Access to the centre of the village for emergency services will be jeopardised
- Where are you going to put a 40ft articulated delivery lorry?

The impact of the Co-op on traffic flow and safety in the village will be dealt with by Highways Dept. They have a set of Rules and Regulations which the Co-op will comply with in full. If a traffic flow survey is required then this will come out of the planning process. The Co-op are well aware of the fear that traffic congestion is a serious concern for the residents of Stradbroke and will do whatever they can to allay the residents' fears.
Co-op has met with representatives from the primary school (teachers and governors) and will work with the community to address their concerns over safety.
Customer parking - from experience in other stores, shopping is done in a relatively short period and turn round times for cars is therefore rapid. 10/11 car parking spaces for a shop this size is considered adequate, especially with many customers living within the village.
Deliveries will be strictly controlled and a guarantee was given that the Co-op large delivery will not take place during the periods when children arrive or leave school.

2. A variety of questions and comments regarding the impact of a second store on other shops within the village

- Does the village actually need another shop, and can we afford it?
- The Butchers and Bakers have served us well, what will happen to them if the Co-op comes?
- If we get a Co-op will you look to stock what the other shops do not (eg a Pharmacy)
- In the past the Village had many shops and it was not a problem then.

From experience in other villages (e.g. Debenham and Lavenham) the presence of a Co-op increases trade within the community and does not reduce the business of existing shops. Debenham for example has a variety of shops and the introduction of a Co-op will help create a critical mass for the village to grow and prosper. Experience has also shown that it is the big supermarket giants that suffer most when a new local Co-op opens with local residents preferring to shop nearer to home, thus all local shops benefit.

The Co-op want to be "good neighbours" and are determined to work with other shops and local suppliers to meet customer needs.

3. How many years are left before the Lease on the SPAR shop runs out? Could we be left with no convenience store if the Co-op did not go ahead?

There are 15yrs left on the lease and it is unlikely that planning would allow for a chance of use. (Answered by the current owners of the SPAR premises)

4. What would the expected opening hours be?

For planning purposes the application would be for 7am till 10pm, 7 days per week. However, the actual opening times have not been decided and will depend on when it is most useful. Management are well aware of how important it is for the Co-op to maintain good neighbours and would not want to encourage any form of antisocial behaviour as a consequence of late opening.

5. Has the site actually been purchased?

The contract of purchase is subject to planning being given. If plans are not approved then the purchase will not go ahead.

6. Could we have a vote by members of the audience to see how many are in favour of a Co-op coming to the village?

It is likely that the majority of the residents present in the meeting were here because they had a strong objection to the proposed opening of a new store. It was an unrepresentative cross section of the village. Any vote would be meaningless and therefore should not be held. (This was a response from a member of the audience, not the Co-op).

Everyone was invited to stay and enjoy refreshments provided by the Co-op and served by the WI and to review the plans on display and discuss further.
The meeting closed with a vote of thanks for the Co-op coming to the village and sharing their proposals.

Copies of the current plans presented at the meeting can be found here; Location Plan, Site PlanElevations