Councillors fighting to save a local supermarket from closure have met senior managers from Aldi to call on them to think again.
The meeting was arranged by Longford and Henley ward councillors on behalf of their constituents after more than 1,600 people signed petitions to try and protect the Aldi store in Roseberry Avenue, Bell Green.
Store bosses have decided to close the store this month as they pursue a national strategy for larger stores, but councillors say it would be a severe loss to the local community.
Many people rely on the store and walk there for their weekly shopping or use public transport and it has been well used ever since it first opened its doors.
The six ward councillors met with Marius Manolescu, Regional Director of Aldi, and Hamish Latchem, Property Director of Aldi.
One of the leading campaigners, Rachel Green, was also there to hand over a petition and to speak on behalf of residents, asking the retail firm to reverse or delay their decision.
And following the meeting, they were reassured that Aldi would not oppose any plans for a new food store on the site if another retailer came forward.
Aldi managers also said they will meet with the Council to identify any future opportunities in the area that fit in with their national plans.
Cllr Pat Seaman, of Henley ward, said: “We are disappointed that Aldi did not consult us earlier in their decision-making process, but we would like to thank the senior managers for coming to listen to what residents had to say.
“It was a very productive meeting and we were able to tell them of the great potential in what is a growing area, with more housing and retail developments on the way, as well as tell them how distressed local people are by the closure plans.
“Residents have reacted very strongly to the loss of their store and we were delighted that Rachel, as one of the leading campaigners, was able to join us. She spoke very passionately and very persuasively and was able to tell the Aldi representatives exactly how people in the area would be affected by this decision.”
Cllr Linda Bigham, a Longford councillor, added: “It was a good meeting and we were able to tell store managers how loyal local people have been to the store and how they have helped to make it a successful one for Aldi.
“We spoke of social responsibility and how supermarkets need to consider the people they serve.
“This store is right in the heart of the community and you can tell how much it means to local people by the reaction to the closure plans.
“It really is a valuable part of the day-to-day life of the area and is used by everyone from young families, to elderly people who find it hard to travel long distances.
“It is not just a shop, it is a lifeline to many.”
The meeting follows a letter from the ward councillors to Giles Hurley, the Chief Executive of Aldi UK, asking for a chance to put their case for the store’s future. It was signed by Longford councillors George Duggins, Linda Bigham and Lindsley Harvard and Henley councillors Pat Seaman, Kevin Maton and Ed Ruane.
The store was one of the first opened by Aldi in the city and is believed to be a profitable one.