CANDIDATES standing in Castletown in the general election have given a lukewarm reception to news that the town may be getting another supermarket.
Last week’s Manx Independent reported that another supermarket or another type of large retailer could be brought in as the latest phase of the Callow’s Yard redevelopment of the town centre.
The owner of the town centre development, Roy Tilleard, said: ‘It will be a supermarket or another retailer of another type. We are trying to bring a retailer in.
‘I cannot comment on who it will be – whoever comes in will be quite a large retailer. These things do not happen quickly, things have been going on for some time.’
He revealed that the plan was to replace four shops with one big store.
Mr Tilleard also commented: ‘Castletown is not blessed with good supermarkets.’
The town already has Shoprite and Manx Co-op stores.
When approached by the Manx Independent, the six candidates were guarded in their reaction to the the possibility of another supermarket.
Jason Moorhouse is a teacher at Castle Rushen High School. He said: ‘It’s going to be very difficult, given the breadth of opportunities, to support two supermarkets and the Co-op.
‘There is a limited range within Castletown. I had heard that a major clothing retailer was interested – it’s a pity this wasn’t pursued more effectively. I suspect it will be a bit like what has happened in the past with flights to Liverpool – if a second operator comes on the route it’s only a matter of time before one or another goes bust.’
Speculating on which supermarket it might be, he said: ‘When a business like Tesco recognises the potential and others don’t, a credibility gap develops.’
Mahendra Patel served as a commissioner in Castletown for 11 years and is still a pharmacist in the town. He said: ‘There is no need for another in the town. What will it bring?
‘I would rather the space was used to increase the variety of shops, which would increase the base for further traffic. All you are doing here is dividing the cake.’
David Pownall, who works for Manx National Heritage, said: ‘We’ve already got a supermarket in the town and it’s a good one. This will only take away from the existing businesses such as the butchers and the wine shop. Callow’s Yard hasn’t really delivered, it’s been a white elephant. Shoprite and Co-op are good – we need to protect them.’
Former chairman of Castletown Commissioners, Colin Leather said: ‘I have heard rumours that four supermarkets – two from across and two local – had been approached. If a third supermarket were to set up shop there would be good and bad implications.
‘On the good side, it would provide us with more choice and be a magnet for people from round about. However, on the bad side, we could end up losing the Co-op or other existing stores.
‘At the end of the day it’s a free market and this is competition. But for preference I would keep our two existing stores.
‘In the planning applications for Tesco’s Lake Road (Douglas) site it was made clear that they wanted to open a store in the south. As regards parking issues, we will always have challenges in this area but we can overcome this if it is the benefit of the town – our number one priority is jobs.’
Richard Ronan, former Castletown commissioner, said: ‘I welcome the news of any significant private sector lead investment into the regeneration of Castletown centre, but not at any cost. It needs to be a Manx business to gain maximum GDP for the island. It needs to be easy to service and not add to already difficult traffic congestion in the town, and it needs to create additional new jobs for the people of our town not just cannibalise loyal local serving businesses that serve the town well already.’
Carol Quine, a medical staffing administrative officer at Noble’s Hospital, said: ‘Whether we need one or not isn’t the issue. It’s about greater choice.
‘You know we all try to shop local but often, when finances are tight, you just can’t can you?’
l Have your say on this issue.