Co-op keeps two Cuckfield stores despite oposition

Wealden Stores, Cuckfield under threat from new Co-op. Pic Steve Robards SUS-140309-091015001
Wealden Stores, Cuckfield under threat from new Co-op. Pic Steve Robards SUS-140309-091015001

Co-op has announced it will keep its existing store in Cuckfield despite plans to take over a nearby pub.

Campaigners welcome the decision to keep the shop on the High Street, but have not given up in their fight to save The Ship Inn, Whitemans Green.

A spokesman for the Save The Ship campaign said: “This gives Cuckfield a great opportunity to show the company that they have made a huge mistake opening a store at Whitemans Green.

“By ensuring that the whole community makes use of the existing shop and continues to support Wealden Stores we can vote with our feet and show the Co-op that there is no place for a supermarket in Whitemans Green.

“We now have the opportunity to save our shops which are important to Cuckfield both socially and economically.”

Campaigners say the new Co-op will ‘destroy’ nearby Wealden Stores but the Co-op said the shopping experience for villagers will be ‘greatly improved’.

Cuckfield resident and star of Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube Christian Stevenson aka DJ BBQ said: “It proves that they are nervous about their initial decision and that they are going against all ethics by trying to destroy Wealden Stores.”

Christian was part of a group which held a ‘drink in’ at the existing Co-op, armed with pints and placards, to make their feelings known.

Campaigners say one store is enough, but the Co-op spokesman continued: “In addition, representatives of The Co-operative Food were in the village recently to reassess the feasibility of keeping the two stores open.

“We have concluded that keeping both branches open is the best course of action for the village at this time.”

He said they will monitor progress carefully and revisit this decision over the next few months.

The Co-op representative said they are ‘listening to feedback from residents’.

The new store in Whitemans Green, which opens today, will include a bakery, a fresh food department and a community information area.