A “passionate and committed” Co-op member who organised a village protest at closure of the store was “overwhelmed” by support shown on Tuesday morning.
Lynn Langlands put up flyers asking anyone concerned to be outside the shop in Cooden Sea Road to be part of an Observer photograph.
It was unbelievable. I could not believe the response.Lynn Langlands
She was thrilled when more than 60 turned up.
Now she has seen the strength of local feeling she has vowed to fight on.
“It was unbelievable,” she said. “I could not believe the response. It would appear that there is definitely a possibility, albeit slim, that we could turn this decision, and on that basis I feel I need to push forward.”
She was heartened by discussion with Brett Maclean of the East Sussex Economic Advisory Board who felt the branch was an integral part of community life so there might be strategies available to help.
Lynn understands closure has come because the store is not viable and the Co-op management did not want to find extra cash to buy a new lease.
But parking charges and lack of spaces for customer vehicles have contributed according to Cllr Stuart Earl.
He also blames the presence of Tesco just across the road and believes this has impacted seriously on trade.
Cllr Earl is “extremely disappointed” at the loss of the Co-op and said: “I am not surprised since the arrival of Tesco splitting the amount of business there. I also think some of the drop in footfall throughout the village is definitely because of the charge in the public car park in Little Common without any concessions. We tried very hard to get one hour free for local residents to use for their doctor’s appointments or going to the chemist, whatever, but it was turned down. A consequence of this is the streets around are full of cars of people who work in the village so when customers come along there is nowhere for them to park. Tesco has a car park, but the Co-op has not. I am sure it has affected business.”
He added it was “sad” for shoppers and said: “There is no other choice. They have to cross the road to Tesco. I think the impact will be that people just shop elsewhere.”
Tracy and Paul Zipperlen of Pear Tree Lane said: “We have lived in Little Common for five years and have been dedicated customers to the Co-op. We are very sad that we will no longer have this ethical shop in our village.”
A spokesperson for the Co-operative Food said: “The decision to close the store has been taken with the greatest reluctance and is due to the store’s trading performance, as well as the expiry of the lease: in short, it is not commercially viable for the store to continue to operate. Its closure is not, in any way, a reflection on the commitment and hard work of the store team.”