Asbestos blamed for shop closure

PUBLISHED: 14:00 29 June 2011

(click on image for larger view) Fire at the COOP Store in Winscombe.

(click on image for larger view) Fire at the COOP Store in Winscombe.

Archant

ASBESTOS, and not structural damage, has been blamed for the prolonged closure of a shop in Winscombe.

The Co-Operative Society supermarket in Woodborough Road has been shut since an electrical fire on April 25, and residents and shopowners are growing increasingly angry at the lack of activity in the store.

The firm originally said the store was shut due to extensive damage, but the Avon Fire and Rescue Service has since said that there was no structural damage to the shop, with the necessary removal of asbestos now blamed for the delay.

Parish councillor Steve Bridges said: “I have sent eight emails and messages to the Co-Op about this, but I haven’t had a reply to any of them.

“We’ve all known there’s an asbestos problem in the shop, but there are companies in Weston, Bridgwater and Bristol who could have gotten rid of it in a short time.

“The fact that nothing is being done is very disappointing.”

Twink Collinge, owner of The Rocking Chair gift shop and The Conservatory florists said: “It [the closure of the shop] is causing a lot of businesses in the village to suffer.

“If they decided they didn’t want to keep the shop, then at least someone else could take it over, but the lack of any activity really is hurting us at the moment. “

A spokesman for the company said: “We take the issue of asbestos very seriously and while we are dealing with the situation at our Winscombe store as efficiently as possible, safety is always our prime concern.

“We have undertaken a comprehensive survey of the site and will be engaging a specialist contractor to carry out the removal work.”

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