Llandrindod Wells

Hallo, why are we talking about Llandrindod Wells? Sure it is a rather long way from Acocks Green. Llandrindod is a pretty Victorian Spa town, in Powys, in Mid Wales. It has a small town centre. It has slightly fewer shops than Acocks Green, but some of the same types of shop. Like Acocks Green, until recently it had one main supermarket, some smaller food shops, a butcher’s, a hardware store, a couple of chemists a couple of newsagents, some knick-knack shops, some cafes … Llandrindod had something happen to it recently. Something which could happen to Acocks Green, if Morrison’s is approved on Thursday 26 April. A year ago it acquired a large new supermarket, a Tesco, just around the corner from the town centre. On visiting we noticed a number of boarded up shops and an unfamiliar ease in parking in the high street which was quite disconcerting.

Here are some comments from some shop keepers and assistants. Nearly all were happy to give their names.

Lets start with Bradley’s hardware shop (See the tall building on the left, in the picture above.) Bradley’s is very well known in Llandrindod. Everybody goes there (well, they used to) for their tools, their their gardening equipment, bins, rugs, curtain hooks … The shop is run by Bradleys. This is a family business. For those who live in Acocks Green this might be starting to ring a bell or two. Julie Bradley said that trade was considerably down since the arrival of Tesco’s and that she had been forced to reduce the stock now carried. Shopping in the, still well organised and well stocked, four story, shop was a disconcerting, even slightly eerie, experience because we were the only people there.

Everyone we spoke to told us the same story. Chris Brittain, at J.O. Davies, the Spa convenience store said – yes it was fine to quote him saying: ‘We noticed an effect straight away.’ Here is Chris again on Facebook. He writes:

Yes, I know everybody loves Tesco’s in Llandrindod but it means all the local shops are losing business. Don’t let the Spar close down! Go in and buy something every so often. Save. Our. Spar.

Di Sharma in Vann’s Good Food shop told us:

We have lost the footfall. Our trade is noticeably down. The cars just go straight over the railway bridge (To Tesco). It has detracted trade from the Co-op too (Previously Llandrindod’s main supermarket – about the size of Acocks Green Sainsbury’s) There is free parking and a huge car park there, too

Michelle Pugh at Verzon Books added:

Since Tesco’s came, our trade is down by half.

Another trader from a well known old chain declined to be named (though, hint, we have this chain on a prominent corner location in Acocks Green) said:

We have lost half of our counter sales and a number of shops have shut down. Tesco’s have stopped the footfall. People from the big local offices now just drive straight past to Tesco’s.

The phrase ‘ghost town’ also occurred disturbingly often, both from the lips of traders, and from local residents in the area.

Lots of Llandrindod people also told us that there had been assurances that the centre would be OK, and lots of people who supported Tesco’s swore they would still shop in Llandrindod. They even recalled a councillor said to have voted for Tesco against his better judgement because he was frightened of the opinion of local people.

Do we really want Morrison’s in Shaftmoor Lane, close Acocks Green centre. There is still time to just just say no to Morrison’s

 

 

 

 

 

3 Responses to “Llandrindod Wells”

  1. Ross Hardwick says:

    I used to live in Llandrindod wells, or as the locals call it ‘llandod’, and I still go back there frequently to see friends and family. I also now live in acocks green. This I believe is a brag no one else in the village can honestly say. I must say I find your comparisons between the two places slightly far fetched. Llandrindod is a town of 5000 or so people in rural Wales, it does as you rightly wrote have a few shops for this and that, however acocks green is a much bigger village. We already have a saindbury’s, an aldi, a lidl a few minutes walk away and the largest tesco outside of the south east a 10 minute drive away. The nearest large tesco (or any other major high street supermarket) to llandrindod is a 40 minute drive away. The selection on our doorstep is massive compared to that of Llandrindod. I have spoken to friends and family about the new tesco, a few of them are employed by tesco. All have said its been a brilliant addition to the towns shopping options. Also on my trips back the only shops I have seen with boarded up windows have been the shops that have never functioned well as shops. Personally I think it a bit of a joke that you would even try to compare the two places. Make a bigger stretch next time and compare acocks green with Abu Dhabi. If a morrisons is approved I think the only people it will effect, if at all, will be the sainsbury’s. A bit of friendly competition is good for a shop. We can’t go around protecting national chains.

    • Julia says:

      Hi Ross

      I agree that is an amazing coincidence about Llandod and Acocks Green.

      I am not quite sure why you are so keen to stress that any comparisons must be between areas of the same size though. The real issue here seems to be the ratio of shops to the ratio of catchment area. The case of Llandod is an interesting one, in this respect. The catchment area spreads very well beyond the town. My parents have lived for the past 28 years in a village six miles from Llandod, but Llandod has always been their local ‘town’. As I am sure you will recall, Llandod caters for a wide area around it, as well as for the townspeople. Nontheless, despite that wide catchment area Llandod it is clearly suffering at present because it is over-supplied with food outlets. Since you know Llandod so well I am surprised that you do not mention that, in addition to the new Tesco Llandod also has a long established supermarket of roughly the same size as Sainsbury’s (currently a Co-op, but previously owned by Summerfield’s, and, before that, Gateway’s) in the town centre. This supermarket is presently suffering badly, as is the local Spa Shop, J.O. Davies. This is a long established grocery business, pre-dating its ‘Spa incarnation, and affectionately known as J.O’s, as I am sure you will also know, but that affection has not been sufficient to maintain its customer base. There is, also, of course, an Aldi. This is larger than the one in Acocks Green and I am, therefore, puzzled that you mention the Acocks Green one, and not the Llandod one. Finally, there is a large whole food shop, Van’s. An additional supermarket has simply been too much for at least three of these other outlets (We have not checked Aldi) and, as a consequence of the loss of trade to these shops, there has also been an overall loss of footfall to other shops in the area like the hardware shop, the bookshop and local chemists. Some businesses which you dismiss as ‘shops which have never functioned well as shops’ were surviving but have gone to the wall with the arrival of Tesco’s, meaning that more people will be out of work and buildings – including some very special Victorian buildings – will be under threat of neglect and deterioration. I am not sure that the people who ran these shops would describe Tesco as ‘friendly’ in any sense at all. Although you seem comfortable with this state of affairs in your home town be assured that many people find this very troubling indeed.

      To turn to Acocks Green, as you yourself put it, with the arrival of Tesco, ‘the selection on our doorstep is massive’ – we could not have put it better ourselves. Since last Thursday, when two more supermarket plans near to Acocks Green were approved by the BCC Planning Committee, into this ‘massive selection’ are to appear two more large supermarkets. We are particularly worried about the Morrison’s development, which is closest to Acocks Green. The argument used in the report to the Planning Committee, in order to support the logic of recommending for approval these two new developments was that the catchment area for Morrison’s would extend to Castle Bromwich and The Maypole, given that these two areas were already ‘over trading’. Now, if you lived at the Maypole, and found your local Sainsbury’s a little bit full, would, you, in all honesty, say that you would drive over to Acocks Green Morrison’s? The plan was approved on the basis that such a thing was likely to happen, or in other words, that Birmingham people would behave like people in the wide catchment area around Llandrindod, and be prepared to drive many miles to a supermarket. Clearly, the catchment area for the Llandrindod supermarkets is not large enough, even allowing for all that travelling in from the surrounding villages: Llandrindod is over-supplied, and the older, smaller, supermarkets are the ones to suffer, but this has a knock-on effect in terms of footfall. Unless we are convinced by the argument that people will drive from Castle Bromwich or The Maypole to the new Morrison’s, then, on the basis of that planning report, we can assume that Acocks Green is about to become over-supplied, and, looking at trends, it will not only be Sainsbury’s which will suffer, but the surrounding shops too. A bookshop in Llandrindod which has lost half its trade because of Tesco’s is not a shop which is in competition (‘friendly or otherwise) with Tesco’s, which will only sell a handful of books, but a shop which is losing out because of loss of footfall: the bookshop is only an example. The same will apply to many other shops. What will happen to, our bookshop, our hardware shop, our chemists, our clothing shops? If Acocks Green becomes a ‘ghost town’, just as Llandrindod has, but many others will, and the knock-on effect to the community, community spirit, and identity, could be serious.

      Since you say you are not keen on ‘protecting national chains’ I am slightly puzzled by your vigorous defense of the ‘brilliant’ Tesco’s in Yardley and the ‘friendly’ Tesco’s in Llandod. In Acocks Green, however, my concern is not only for the loss of a local, walking distance, supermarket facility, but, also the other shops which will be lost along with Sainsbury’s. Moreover, in reference to jobs, whilst it is good to hear that your friends have acquired jobs at Tesco’s, please bear in mind that it has been estimated that for every supermarket job created five jobs associated with smaller shops (who employ more people) are lost.

  2. Ann Clarke says:

    The report regarding Llandrindod I heard on Radio Wales some months ago was exactly as expressed by Julia Larden. The report contained interviews with shopkeepers and residents and ‘phoned-in responses.

RSS feed for comments on this post. And trackBack URL.

Leave a Reply