Sweet shop entrepreneur: 'We'll take civic centre battle to Downing Street'
AN ENTREPRENEUR who built a national confectionary empire from Staffordshire is campaigning for a Parliamentary debate on the city council's controversial relocation plans.
Martin Peet, who runs Mr Simms' Olde Sweet Shoppe chain, is aiming to secure 100,000 signatures for his e-petition to Downing Street.
He claims Stoke-on-Trent City Council's plans – including its relocation to a new £40 million civic centre in Hanley and its support for the City Sentral shopping centre – will harm the city's development.
The businessman's petition calls for Government intervention in the running of the council to block its plans.
Do you have an interview coming up and would like some professional help and support. Contact BlueSky CVs - the local specialist to help and support you!
10% discount off web prices.
Terms: 1 session per person
Contact: 01538 710408
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Reaching the 100,000-signature milestone could trigger a debate in Parliament.
Mr Peet said: "The city does not have the spending power or wealth to support both the Potteries Shopping Centre and a new shopping centre.
"The spending of £40 million on a lavish new headquarters can't be justified, especially with this week's announcement that more services are being cut."
The Mr Simms' chain, which Mr Peet launched eight years ago with stores in Leek, Longton and Hanley, has grown into a 100-strong network with outlets across the UK.
It includes shops in Campbell Place, Stoke, and in Tontine Street, Hanley.
The city council plans to move to a new headquarters in Hanley's Central Business District (CBD) from 2015.
Its Civic Centre in Stoke is up for sale alongside the former Spode works, Stoke Town Hall, the King's Hall, Gordon House and Kingsway car park.
The move is designed to attract private investors to the CBD, which will create thousands of jobs if it expands as planned to include office blocks, shops and a hotel.
Leaders have also signed a binding development agreement to support Realis Estates' plan to open a £350 million shopping centre on the former East West precinct.
A traders' campaign group in Stoke fears the relocation of 1,300 council workers will force their shops out of business.
Mr Peet's partner Mandy Hill, who runs the Mr Simms' store in Stoke, said: "We've been here for four years now. When we first started it was very quiet but gradually it has built up and all of the shops are full – now that is suddenly going to be taken away from us."
Councillor Ruth Rosenau, cabinet member for regeneration, planning and transport, said: "The £180 million CBD development will create more than 300 construction jobs and up to 4,500 jobs.
"It will also stimulate private sector confidence in Stoke-on-Trent and encourage inward investment. Despite difficult times we are determined to drive the regeneration of our city."
To sign the petition, visit http:// epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/41825