There have been letters about the lamentable closure of the Co-op store in Padiham.
I have been prevented from responding by the recent local elections in which I was a candidate but a letter from Mr Adam Parker, whom I believe I know as a former pupil, has determined me to.
I agree with much of what Mr Parker says about the Co-op’s ethical stance. His reference to the importance of the Co-operative Movement in setting standards in the quality of food sold in their stores is something with which, though not widely known, I generally agree.
Everyone will be aware the Co-operative Movement is going through difficult times. Recent publicity will not have endeared the movement to the public.
The essential failure of the Co-op Bank, one of a number of such failures in Britain, together with the rank incompetence of its directors in not finding a suitable means to enable the bank to continue along similar lines to its high street rivals are matters about which they ought to be thoroughly ashamed. I should remind readers the bank is now owned by a number of American hedge funds.
I have banked with the Co-op Bank since I started work in 1971. In those days it was the only bank I could get to because the hours I worked precluded actually getting to other banks. However, the Co-operative Bank is not the only part of the Co-operative Movement that has let down its customers. Just think of the number of Co-op stores there were in Burnley until the 1960s.
The larger ones, as have Leo and Pioneer, have all gone and a number of smaller ones are occupied by such firms as Spar. In addition to that, the Co-op has forgotten it was founded to serve ordinary working people who have limited budgets. It is all well and good to go on about the Co-op’s ethical stance but these people, once the core of Co-op users, have been priced out of Co-op stores and abandoned to privately owned German firms.
Mr Parker wants us to support the remaining Co-op stores. There is, as he will know, only one in Burnley, another in Brierfield and one in Colne. Who would have thought Nelson (“Little Moscow”, as they used to call the town) would not have had a Co-op shop? That said, I went to the store in Briercliffe Road. Six fairly common, everyday items could not be found. I have complained directly to Co-op bosses in Manchester about Briercliffe Road not stocking Co-op lines. I have also complained about other matters but, though I have retail experience, have been ignored.
I would like to recommend Co-op shoppers use the Briercliffe Road store but the one in Barnoldswick is much better stocked. I think the Yorkshire stores are served by a more competent distribution centre. Alternatively, it can only be explained by the Co-op being determined to close all their shops in East Lancashire.