TELEVISION presenter Selina Scott has launched a stinging attack on the dominance of supermarket giants ahead of a crunch decision on a retail development in a North Yorkshire market town.
Ms Scott claimed independent retailers play a “vital social role” ahead of a national conference to promote small business which she will chair.
The broadcaster has been a staunch opponent of plans for a supermarket development in Malton, and urged councillors to block the proposals at a planning meeting on Thursday next week.
Ms Scott, who lives near Malton, will champion the independent retail sector when she chairs the national conference of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scarborough, which runs from tomorrow until Saturday.
She said: “Standing four-square with the FSB is another way for me to show my total commitment to Malton, its heritage and its future, where small shops, not retail giants wielding their clubcards, play a vital social role and need to be encouraged by those they elect, not sold out by them.”
Councillors from Ryedale District Council will next week decide if the supermarket development on the Wentworth Street car park site should be approved.
The Leeds-based developers, GMI Holbeck, submitted a planning application for the Wentworth Street scheme in September last year.
Councillors will also decide at the same meeting on plans to re-develop the town’s livestock market. A smaller food store could be created on the market site in a rival scheme by the Fitzwilliam Estate, which has owned much of Malton town centre for the past 300 years.
GMI Holbeck has stated that there has been a “great deal of misinformation circulated” about its plans.
The developers drafted an open letter to residents in December which warned that Malton’s retail sector will decline unless there is major investment.
The letter stated as much as £600,000 is spent each week on supermarket shopping outside of Ryedale by the district’s own residents taking their custom to rival towns and cities.
Members of the council voted in 2010 to sell the Wentworth Street car park, after seven companies expressed an interest in developing the site.