Shopowner’s warning as Morrisons takes over pub

SHOPOWNER Ashvin Patel has claimed a new convenience store in Aldwick will force him to close.

Mr Patel is faced with an M store being opened by Morrisons opposite his Tudor News shop.

The national retailer has announced it has leased the former Ship Inn to convert it into the new outlet. But Mr Patel said it would mean the end of his business.

“I don’t mind competition but I can’t compete with the big boys like that. It’s impossible to compete with them.

“It hurts when something like this happens. It hurts because it’s my livelihood,” he said.

Mr Patel has run Tudor News on Aldwick Street for 28 of its 50-plus years. It survived the blow in May 2008 of having its Post Office closed.

“I managed to cope with that,” he said. “I thought we were going along steadily and nicely and, all of a sudden, this comes as a shock.”

He warned the shop’s closure would see its 15 delivery boys serving 500 customers out of a job.

Mr Patel is also the county councillor for Bognor Regis West and Aldwick and said he had been raising concerns about traffic along Aldwick Street and adjoining Fish Lane for years.

“The cars speed so much along there. It’s a busy road and cars will be coming out on to it from the Morrisons’ car park.

“I don’t know what is going to happen when they have big delivery lorries there. There’s no pavement in front of the building either.”

The Ship Inn, believed to date back to about 1890, has opened and closed several times recently. It was last open about two months ago as the building’s owner, Enterprise Inns, tried to find a long-term tenant. But Morrisons announced in the past week it would be opening. The date is not yet known.

Sarah Atta, the company’s property communications manager, said: “We identified The Ship as a great opportunity to deliver a fresh new option for shoppers and to create jobs.

“We understand there is a considerable amount of local interest in the pub site and have begun to engage with local representatives.”

Campaigners formed the Friends of the Ship to try to save the pub. Vice-chairman Dr Graham Windett said: “The Ship has been the only local pub for a lot a people. There are no other pubs within walking distance.

“The Ship has been quite a centre of the community for a long time and that loss will be felt.”

The group had reached more than 220 members in a short time and had a 400-strong online petition to get The Ship registered as an asset of community value.

Aldwick Parish Council member Cllr Michael Warden said: “Under planning law, we can’t stop this. But I do have concerns about traffic, parking and cars coming in and out of the site all day.”

The matter is being raised at the parish council’s meeting this Monday.