CALLS are being made to save a Weymouth store which helps struggling families and the homeless.
Bargain Brand Food Outlet faces closure after being refused planning permission to continue as a retail venture.
Couples Colin and Tracy Williams and Trevor and Helene Dymott set up the outlet at Lynch lane a year ago to provide cheaper food for the community.
Before the store opened, Mr Williams and Mr Dymott ran a garage from the same unit.
They turned it into a shop before seeking planning permission and the venture has been hugely popular with goods feeding the homeless through the charity Soul Food as well as local families on the breadline.
But planning permission for change of use has not been granted due to the loss of employment land.
There’s a chance the outlet could be saved if the owners can convince the authority responsible, West Dorset District Council, the shop is of community value.
Many have already expressed their outrage at the possible loss of the store, with hundreds of people writing to Mr Williams.
He said: “We want all those people who have relied on us in these difficult times to get in touch and show us their support.
“I now have to submit a revised planning application showing the council the shop is of a benefit to the community to have any chance of overturning their decision or I will be served with an enforcement notice to close the shop.”
He added: “We can only save this community shop with your help.
“I read in the Echo that there were 27 empty shops in the town centre – why do they want to close another?”
He said: “The council told us they don’t want a store in an area of high employment – but we are surrounded by retail and we are the only ones helping people.
“Basically all the food is around 25p and we are helping homeless people, single parents and those setting up on their own following homelessness and addiction.
“They can come in and get ingredients for a week’s worth of meals for under ten pounds – they can’t do that anywhere else.
“If Weymouth doesn’t want us we will go and help in some other town elsewhere.”
Soul Food outreach worker Angie Barnes visits the store weekly to get food for rough sleepers.
She said: “Please help save this vital and community based commodity.
“Only hundreds of letters will save this shop – please email Colin, your councillors and let them all know how important it is.
“We are running out of time.”
She added: “It mainly helps the rough sleepers but also helps single parents get stuff for school lunches.”
Borough councillor Gill Taylor is among those supporting the store.
She said: “It is sad that we need stores like this in the community but we do and it is helping people and families. Let us hope it can continue with its good work.”
Mr Williams will now submit a revised application by the end of the month, along with the residents’ letters and emails.
To get in touch email firstname.lastname@example.org
Support for food outlet
HUNDREDS of struggling residents have expressed their support for the Bargain Brand Food Outlet.
Single mum Stacie Lowry wrote: “I am absolutely appalled that you are intending to serve a notice on this store.
“In a time when more and more people in this town are relying on food banks because money is tight.
“The food outlet is a shining beacon to us all.”
Ros Thompson said: “I am an OAP and since this outlet opened it has made such a difference to my life. I am now able to buy treats for my grandchildren.”
'Key employment area'
WEST Dorset District Council has refused planning permission to turn the unit from a garage/MOT station into a shop and warehouse.
The refusal was due to ‘the retail use results in a loss of employment land contrary to adopted policy of the West Dorset District Local Plan 2006”.
It also said the area is ‘identified as a key employment site within West Dorset, Weymouth and Portland Draft Local Plan’ and that it fails to ‘on site support facilities or an economic enhancement’.