“Town killing” proposal to close M&S in Neath needs answers says Plaid MS

Sioned Williams MS, whose constituency office is in Neath town centre, has written to Marks and Spencer about the “enormous blow” that their store closure would have on the town.

In her letter, Ms Williams points to a discrepancy between the letter she received from Marks and Spencer which cited declining sales as the reason behind the proposal, and separate confirmation she has received that the Neath store routinely meets – and often exceeds – its target figures.

Ms Williams has also requested confirmation of whether alternative options are being considered that would maintain the presence of this brand in the town, and what measures are being taken to safeguard the employment of staff should the proposal go ahead.

Since posting the news of the proposed closure on her Facebook page, Ms Williams has received hundreds of comments, with constituents calling the move “the worst possible news”, “detrimental to smaller independent shops” and hundreds more sharing the post.

Sioned Williams’ constituency office in Alfred Street is a stone’s throw from the store, and Ms Williams says the store closure will directly impact her staff too.

Ms Williams has also written to Neath Port Talbot Council to ascertain whether they are in negotiation with company, whether they have reached out to other store owners in the town centre to provide reassurance, and to ask for confirmation if a town centre strategy exists for Neath, and other key town centres in their remit, including Port Talbot, Pontardawe, Briton Ferry and Glynneath.

Sioned Williams MS, Plaid Cymru Member of Senedd for South Wales West, said:

“The Marks and Spencer store in Neath has a long history of serving the people of this whole area, and its importance to the town cannot be overstated. The store closure would be a hammer blow to the town centre, and the impact will be felt by all the other businesses there, not to mention the people who live in, work in and visit Neath.

“While I understand that the environment for retail is extremely challenging, as any local will tell you, this is one store that is always busy – particularly the food hall. We must have confidence that every other option has been explored, particularly in terms of conversations held with the local council. For this reason I have written to both Marks and Spencer and the Council to request further information relating to the process following the announcement and the support that will be made available to staff should the store close.

“I have long campaigned for a thriving Neath town centre, and that’s why it’s important to challenge this proposal when we do not yet have reassurance that every option has been explored.

“In addition, I want to understand the Council’s strategy for Neath, as well as for other town centres in the local authority, and I’d be keen to meet with officers to discuss this, and other relevant matters further.”


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