'Why has oatcake shop not been knocked down yet?'
THE demolition of Stoke-on-Trent's most famous oatcake shop will finally start within weeks – 10 months after its owner was forced to leave.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has confirmed bulldozers will move in later this month at Hanley's Hole in the Wall and a handful of boarded-up homes.
The Waterloo Street building, pictured below, has been boarded-up since March after owner Glenn Fowler finally sold the building to the authority as part of a clearance programme.
Now former customers are demanding to know why the shop was forced to close so suddenly.
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John Shaw, aged 50, of Nelson Place, Hanley, said: "When the shop closed, we were led to believe that it would be demolished within two weeks and that was why there was such urgency about it, but I am not surprised that it is still standing.
"It should never have come to this. It was disgraceful that he was forced out in the first place."
Maurice Smith, aged 73, of Abbey Hulton, who works in Waterloo Street, said: "I won't believe the building will be demolished until I see it with my own eyes.
"I think the council has an alternative motive for the building. I have seen workers going in over the past few weeks and clearing it out. I wouldn't be surprised if they decided to refurbish it."
Oatcakes had been served through the shop's hatch since the 1920s and customers launched a campaign to save it from closure. But the building finally closed on March 25.
Dean Marsh, aged 23, of Waterloo Street, added: "What happened with the oatcake shop was completely unfair. "My nan and grandad used it all the time and were sad to see it go. Ideally I would like to see it re-opened as some sort of business again because we have nothing around here anymore."
The council has bought four properties – including the Hole in the Wall – in Waterloo Street since September, 2010 at a total cost of £352,754 as part of its regeneration programme.
Councillor Ruth Rosenau, cabinet member for regeneration, today said the authority had been left to 'pick up the pieces' of Renew North Staffordshire's unfinished multi-million pound regeneration project.
She said: "The council has appointed a demolition contractor to clear the majority of the remaining vacant properties, including the shop, and work will start in January. The council has been left to pick up the pieces from Renew and suggestions of replacements with private sector investment have proven increasingly challenging to secure in the current economic climate."