Published:
November 30, 2015
VIDEO: Mayor thanks staff at Burnham's Morrisons store as it shuts

Burnham-On-Sea's Mayor has thanked the staff at Morrisons supermarket as it shut its doors for the final time yesterday (Sunday) with the loss of scores of jobs.

Amid emotional scenes at the store in Pier Street, a bagpiper played in the store's aisles in the moments leading up to the closure at 4pm, before Mayor Michael Clarke addressed the store's staff.

The Mayor told staff: "Thank you very much for what you've done for this town. I know there have been reports about the town council didn't do enough. Rest assured that we and I have tried to do all we can to avert today but it's a sad day and here we are. That doesn't detract that this will leave a huge hole at this end of town and my heartfelt thanks really go out to all of you. Thank you very much for the work you have done and the service you have provided for this town and I wish you all the very best for the future."

The store's very last customer, Susan Garrett, pictured below, was clapped by staff as she left the supermarket. Susan told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "I am very upset about the closure - I have used this store for many years and it's a big loss to Burnham."

Store manager Steve Concannon passed on his best wishes to the staff in their future ventures, leading three cheers for his team, and added that it had been "a very sad and emotional day."

Former staff member Ian Cook, right, added: "It's been a very emotional day, with the piper in the aisles, and seeing so many customers calling in for a final time. I worked here for seven years and it's so sad to see it closing."

Customer Eddie Young added: "'I'm very disappointed about this closure. It's been such a handy store for residents in the town who live nearby and I just don't understand why it's closed."

Those sentiments were echoed by another customer, Dylan Warren, who added: "I can't understand why it's closed - the store always seems busy. We will miss it greatly."

While the staff have shown their positive spirit throughout, with many wearing cheery Christmas clothes for the final day of trading, there were emotional tears and hugs too, as pictured below.

Another of the final customers, Maureen Corbett, said: "I think it's absolutely disgusting that the council has allowed the store to close. It's a huge loss to our community from a social perspective and more should have been done to encourage Morrisons to think again."

The closure leaves a huge question mark hanging over the future of the seafront site.

A petition to try and protect the site as a supermarket, preventing new flats or homes from being built in its place, has been signed by over 1,000 people. The new petition can be signed online here.

The closure, which was first announced in September, leaves dozens of staff at the store without jobs just a month before Christmas.

Some staff have been redeployed to other Morrisons stores in the area, including the Bridgwater distribution depot, but many others have been laid off.

A Burnham Chamber of Trade spokesman said: "The Chamber regrets the final closure of Morrisons and is ready to work with the landlord, Morrisons as it retains a ten year lease on the site, the Town Centre Manager and other interested parties to find a viable future for the site as soon as possible. The Chamber urges its members to publicise widely any job vacancies to ensure that those losing their jobs know of the local employment opportunities."

Campaigners Gaynor Brown and Lyn Salvidge have collected hundreds of signatures for the new petition in recent days. Gaynor said: "The petition is going well and there's lots of interest in protecting the store's site from development. It's a sad weekend to see the store closing."

A Morrisons spokesperson said: "We have looked extremely carefully at whether our store in Burnham-On-Sea can be turned around but unfortunately we cannot see a way of making it viable."

The decision to close comes despite a local campaign to try and save the store. A petition was signed by around 2,400 people calling for the firm to reconsider the closure. A protest was also held during a Town Council meeting where residents and staff waved signs and called for action to save the store.

Morrisons announced earlier this autumn that 11 stores across the UK had been earmarked for closure as part of the cost-cutting moves. The 11 are Burnham-On-Sea, Castletown in Sunderland, Clevedon, Little Hulton, Northallerton, Oldbury, Salford, Shildon, Streatham, Tyldesley and West Bromwich.

Also see:
Council 'confident' that Burnham Morrisons store won't be empty long
Burnham's MP meets campaigners battling to save Morrisons store
Burnham Morrisons staff told store will shut at the end of November
Protest held over Burnham Morrisons closure at council debate
Morrisons to close its Burnham-On-Sea store

 


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