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News release from Alex Johnstone

Alex Johnstone, 08/07/2004

Scottish Executive Ministers in the Communities Department- responsible for planning matters- have refused a meeting with Northeast Scotland Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone over their recent decision not to grant planning permission for any of the three applications for a new supermarket in Arbroath.

In response to a letter from MSP Alex Johnstone requesting a meeting on the subject, Deputy Communities Minister Mary Mulligan states that neither she nor the Cabinet Minister for Communities, Margaret Curran, are able to meet him "as there is always the possibility of a legal challenge against the decisions".

The Deputy Minister also defends her department's decision to reject all three supermarket applications but emphasises that the public local inquiry did establish the need for a new supermarket in the town to improve choice and competition.

Speaking today Alex Johnstone said:

" I am disappointed that I will not have the opportunity to put to Ministers first hand the strength of feeling there is in the Arbroath area on this subject.

" It's all very well for the Minister to say that her department's local inquiry showed the need for another supermarket in the town- something that Arbroathians have known themselves only too well for years now- but the problem is that her department's actions may well have postponed the prospect of the town getting a new supermarket until a much later date.

" I remain committed to seeing the people of Arbroath and district benefiting from having the choice and price competition they deserve through the establishment of another supermarket in the town and I hope, in the interests of all local people and the local economy, that future applications will be considered by the relevant authorities as quickly and efficiently as possible."


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