DEMOLITION men clearing the multi-million pound Tesco supermarket site have ushered in a new era for Padiham, the town’s mayor says.
Bulldozers swept away the last remnants of the historic Britannia Mill complex to make way for the £11m. eco-superstore off Lune Street.
Coun. Bob Clark said the flattening of the four-acre site heralded a real time of change for Padiham which he hoped would benefit the town.
Coun. Clark said: “It is the end of an era for the area, but the start of a new one.
“The mills did give the town employment for many, many years but the thing is they have now gone. It is a time of change.
“Whether Tesco is for the good or for the bad, we will have to see.
“The point is that Tesco is coming and there is nothing we can do to stop it. What we now have to do is try and get the best out of Tesco.”
Building work on the controversial 30,000 sq. ft superstore is set to begin in several weeks and bosses at the retail giant expect it to be open for business by the autumn.
Businesses which operated on the site including Padiham Carpet Mill and Padiham Paints have relocated in the town. British Velvets, which employed 50 staff, is believed to have moved some of its operations to the Farrington Road Industrial Estate in Burnley.
Coun. Clark said: “Tesco appears to be bigger than government because no-one can stop them bulldozing over communities and people in general.
“But it is said that Tesco will bring 150 new jobs and it is said that Tesco will do something to benefit the town. At the end of it, it could bring more new jobs and trade in.
“I just hope it is not the final nail in the coffin for small businesses.”
Key figures are hoping for good news on the £100,000 promised for a new town centre manager post in Padiham.
Hopes are that the manager, funded by Tesco as part of the planning agreement, can be installed early this year to boost local businesses ahead of the superstore opening.
Mark Jinkinson, who is part of the Padiham Town Centre Partnership, said: “It would be an ideal start to the year. I do not know the exact plans yet, but I look forward to working closely with them to help retain and develop the businesses still in Padiham.
“We know Tesco is coming, we just have to get on with it really. If it does have a positive benefit for the town then it is all for the good.”
A Tesco spokesman said: “We’re very pleased that contractors are on site now and we’re looking forward to serving customers in Padiham once we open in the autumn”