A David and Goliath battle has ended in bitter defeat for a couple forced out of business by a ‘greedy’ supermarket giant.
Nayab and Bushra Haider are shutting shop on their Shenley News general store after 22 years.
The couple warned city officials a year ago the supermarket’s new Express store would signal the death knell for their business if given planning permission.
But their plea fell on deaf ears and this week Sainsbury’s was unrepentant, sayingits policy was to “make a positive contribution” to local high streets.
Earlier this year Sainsbury’s bosses were equally defensive about claims they were being over-competitive at the city centre.
The company was accused of holding thecentre:mk to ransom by refusing to surrender the lease on its former Food Hall store after opening The Hub superstore.
It is still paying £1 million a year charges on the empty unit because, claim critics, they don’t want another supermarket chain to move in.
A spokesman for Sainsbury’s said: “We try hard to ensure our stores make a positive contribution to the local high street, by encouraging people to shop locally, providing local jobs and getting involved in a number of community organisations.”
A spokesman for Milton Keynes Council, said: “We are very sorry to hear of Shenley News’ closure. Milton Keynes Council is extremely supportive of businesses of all shapes and sizes and earlier this year we were voted the best place for companies to locate - or relocate - to in a national, independent survey.
“The decision to grant permission for the new units at Benbow Court was made by members of the development control panel, after taking due consideration of the facts available to them on the night.
“The Development Control panel is separate from the normal business of the council and members could only taken their decision based on planning law. Competition is not a planning consideration, so the panel could not take this into account when making their decision.”
A spokesman for site agents, The Parks Trust, said: “Our managing agent Rapleys have been negotiating with Mr and Mrs Haider for some time and explored a number of options with them but ultimately it was their decision to surrender their lease.”
Mr Haider said: “This store was supposed to be our nest egg for our retirement.
“We feel we have really served the community. It is so disappointing.”
The Haiders took over Shenley News on April 1 1991 after signing a 21-year lease.