Town council victory as Waitrose steps reopen

By Barrie Hudson - 25 March 2024

BusinessCommunity
  • Mayor Cllr Gavin Grant and Waitrose partner Debbie Barnes with, from left, Edward and Janice James, Cllr Kim Power, Deputy Mayor Phil Exton and Cllr Campbell Ritchie

    Mayor Cllr Gavin Grant and Waitrose partner Debbie Barnes with, from left, Edward and Janice James, Cllr Kim Power, Deputy Mayor Phil Exton and Cllr Campbell Ritchie

A flight of steps designed for use by shoppers at Malmesbury’s Waitrose has finally been repaired and reopened after a long-running town council campaign.

Councillors put pressure on the supermarket to reopen the steps, which were designed to allow shoppers to exit the supermarket car park on foot, and reach the bottom of Malmesbury High Street, giving easy access to the town centre.

The steps have been closed almost continuously since 2017, because they were deemed unsafe. Despite this, some people were putting themselves at risk by trying to use them or, alternatively, scrambling down the grassy bank to reach the High Street below.
Malmesbury Mayor Cllr Gavin Grant said he was delighted that Waitrose had finally come good on its promise to repair the steps, and reopen them to shoppers.
He added: “The steps were installed on a promise to Malmesbury to help our High Street and for the convenience of shoppers. They have been closed for the best part of seven years, following a failed safety inspection.
“The John Lewis Partnership promised to repair them but last year said their plan had changed and they were going to remove them altogether. That was unacceptable and would have broken their promise to Malmesbury.
“We and the local Waitrose team have campaigned hard to get that decision reversed. So, we are all delighted to see the steps open again, safe for public use and the promise is kept.”
Malmesbury residents Janice and Edward James, regular Waitrose shoppers who use the steps, said the reopening was “...great news and a long time coming”.
Cllr Kim Power, who has been liaising with Waitrose, added: “The steps are great for residents on foot and also for those who wish to park there and after shopping at Waitrose, walk into town for other shops.
“Yes, it has been a long and often frustrating process with the property side of the company after the steps fell into such disrepair. However, we have always had an excellent relationship with our local Waitrose branch partners, many of whom are Malmesbury residents. 
"They have been and are very supportive of local charities and initiatives, and along with our other supermarkets and smaller retailers, continue to provide a fantastic range of options for shopping locally.”

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