Tesco meeting - stairheid briefing as Chamber packed out

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There was a huge turnout at the public meeting to try to save Kirkcaldy’s Tesco store.

The chamber of the Town House was packed to capacity, leaving 50 people in the foyer for what turned into a ‘stair heid’ meeting as politicians kept them briefed in relays.

Gordon Brown speaks to a full hall. Pictures: FPA

Gordon Brown speaks to a full hall. Pictures: FPA

The meeting was called after days of intense activity behind the scenes to force a rare U-turn from Tesco after it announced plans to close the store by April 4, with the loss of up to 189 jobs.

It was an opportunity for politicians of all parties to bring everyone up to speed with their endeavours as well as getting public feedback.

And the message was - we must fight on.

Since Wednesday’s shock announcement, petitions in-store and online have gathered huge support.

The issue has been raised in First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood, and Finance Secretary, John Swinney, briefed.

The Post Office has engaged in serious talks to find a new home.

And at Monday night’s meeting, the public was told Tesco WOULD listen to any plans put forward by the town.

Councillor Neil Crooks, chairman of Kirkcaldy area committee, said: ‘‘Kirkcaldy has been kicked upside down during my lifetime. This is people power standing up for its town centre. I am delighted with the passion being shown - we will show them this was the wrong decision to take.’’

Although wary of raising expectations given the numbers of jobs at risk, there is a clear determination to push Tesco into at least postponing the closure date to give the town time to come up with a Plan B.

The pressure has come from Gordon Brown MP, Claire Baker and David Torrance MSPs, councillors across Kirkcaldy, and key groups such as Kirkcaldy4All and Kirkcaldy’s Ambitions as well as Tesco staff fighting for their jobs.

Mr Brown told the meeting that issues such as rent, rates and parking should all be addressed, and he also revealed the retail giant will pay rent until its lease runs out at the end of the year.

He also said Tesco had omitted to inform the Post Office - based within its Hunter Street store - of its closure timetable.

A Post Office representative was at the meeting to confirm it was looking ‘at any means’ to stay open in the centre of Kirkcaldy and there was ‘no question of walking away’ from the town.

The video shows Cllr Neil Crooks and Gordon Brown MP speaking at the meeting.

>> Full report from the meeting plus all the background in a special report in Thursday’s Fife Free Press.