The news that Sainsbury's has withdrawn it's application for a store in Llandeilo will be greeted with mixed views in my locality, with opinions typically polarised.
However, this decision and the ongoing saga raise some very serious questions. Still, and most importantly perhaps, the council's relationship with this giant retailer and why the council website was used to promote it's application. The Ombudsman is currently investigating the Council Leader's actions over that council press release.
Local MP Jonathan Edwards has issued this statement this evening;
“Sainsbury’s withdrawing the application simply on the basis that the Welsh government has called-in the proposal following its referral by Carmarthenshire County Council shows complete disregard for the national democratic planning process. If delay and uncertainty was the deciding factor, Sainsbury’s would have also withdrawn the Cross Hands application.
“The comments of Welsh government planning officers on the supermarket developments suggest there are concerns regarding the accumulative effect to existing businesses and also question a significant omission in the assessment of the proposals. Sainsbury’s has to yet to comment on those specific issues.
“The local authority, led by the Council Leader, has attacked Mr. Edwards and Mr. Thomas for representing their constituents. Serious questions remain unanswered regarding the Council’s relationship with the supermarket giant and why taxpayers’ resources were used to act as a mouthpiece for this multi-million pound retailer.
“Considering that Sainsbury’s has continued with one application and not the other, it was obviously aware that both applications together contravened Welsh planning policy and would therefore have been refused when called-in. That is why it’s pulled the Llandeilo application. It raises questions about why the applications were recommended for approval in the first instance.
“It is clear the Council’s executive and Sainsbury’s are unhappy with their actions being scrutinised. The decision to withdraw the planning application indicates serious flaws in the planning process and disdain for planning legislation.”