Blackburn MP Jack Straw slams ‘bullying’ by trade war firm
JACK Straw has accused the firm behind a controversial out-of-town shopping development of ‘bullying’ a local council by appealing to the High Court in London.
The Blackburn MP condemned Peel Holdings’ decision to take Hyndburn borough to a judicial review over the refusal to allow new, larger stores on the Whitebirk retail Park on the edge of his constituency, near Rishton.
He said the move, which will involve a costly court hearing, was an attempt to price the authority out of fighting for local businesses.
The hearing will take place later this year as the firm tries to overturn the council’s refusal to allow trading in items like fashion, food and footwear at Whitebirk.
Hyndburn council leader Miles Parkinson said the borough would ‘vigorously defend’ its decision, upheld by a government inspector on appeal.
Blackburn council cabinet member Andy Kay said the authority would submit evidence backing Hyndburn. Mr Straw said: “Peel are in bullying mode. They think that they can intimidate Hyndburn simply by the high costs of defending the legal action but thankfully they are wrong.”
Coun Parkinson said: “We will vigorously defend our decision in the High Court because of the effect overturning it would have on the shopping centres, not just of Blackburn and Accrington, but across East Lancashire. We have provision in our budget for this.”
A Peel Holdings spokesman said: “Peel is wholeheartedly committed to investing £16m into Whitebirk Retail Park, which is in desperate need of modernisation and a wider retail offer.
“Our proposed investment will provide a genuine local alternative to modern retail parks in Preston and Bolton and create at least 250 additional jobs. This will clearly help support the economy of Hyndburn during these difficult economic times.”