OVER 1,200 people in Bantry signed an online petition this week – within a 24-hour period – calling for the establishment of a Lidl store in the town.
The petition will be submitted to An Bord Pleanala which has deferred a decision on this for the second time this year.
In June, Cork County Council granted Lidl permission to build the store at Newtown. But a local businessman, Aiden McCarthy, sent in a submission claiming the decision was in contravention of proper planning.
Mr McCarthy said the location of the store – 1.2km from the town centre – could be ‘a catalyst in driving other large scale convenience stores out of town, and that would kill the vibrancy of the town centre, as it has in other locations.
‘We would welcome a Lidl store in Bantry,’ Mr McCarthy said, ‘but we would prefer to see it located in the town centre.’ Hannah Dare, who is the joint-owner of Organico at Glengarriff Road, said: ‘I’m all for Lidl in Bantry – but let’s keep shopping inside the heart of the town. That way we keep supporting our post office, art shops, butchers, cafés and all the other small shops that make Bantry wonderful, diverse, sociable and appealing to local and to visitors alike. Let’s not allow any supermarkets to locate out of the heart of the town, or we will only end up with a hole where our vibrant town was.’
Amy O’Sullivan, a drama and music teacher who lives in the Mealagh Valley, organised the online petition, which is being circulated on Facebook, but she told The Southern Star she also has plans to produce a paper petition.
A public meeting is planned for next week, but Ms O’Sullivan said the date and venue has yet to be confirmed. Furthermore, she said she would be inviting Aiden McCarthy to attend the meeting to explain his position.
Ms O’Sullivan said the completed petition would be presented to An Bord Pleanala to show that locals want a Lidl in Bantry because it would ‘significantly lower the average family’s grocery bill.’ She said it would also encourage healthy competition, and provide full and part-time jobs.
Joshua Campbell, who lives and shops in Bantry, said: ‘I personally think Bantry does need a discount store like a Lidl or an Aldi. My preference would be Aldi because we go there anyway and it would be much easier if it were closer to home. For a lot of people it comes down to price. There needs to be something other than what we have. Even a Tesco would help in bring more shoppers to Bantry.’
Kathryn O’Reilly, who lives on Glengarriff Road, said: ‘I signed the petition saying we want a Lidl in Bantry. We want to create jobs. It would bring people to Bantry from Castletownbere and give us cheaper shopping so we aren’t broke after getting a basket of groceries. People are spending money to drive to Skibbereen because they want to shop in an Aldi and Lidl.
Elodie Wissocq, who lives between Glengarriff and Bantry, said: ‘It is nice to have traditional, local shops. But it would be good to have another option, including Aldi.’ Elodie said she doesn’t believe there is enough competition in Bantry. ‘I do all my shopping in Bantry but I would like the option of shopping in an Aldi. I don’t think I am getting enough choice.’
For more see Facebook under ‘voteyesforlidlbantry’.