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Pensioners battle Tesco over day centre

Walsall | News | Published:

Pensioners are taking on the country's biggest supermarket chain to try to stop them being thrown out of their day centre.

Pensioners are taking on the country's biggest supermarket chain to try to stop them being thrown out of their day centre.

Angry members of Brownhills Senior Citizens Club have drawn the battle lines against proposals for a new-look Tesco in the town.

The plans, which were recently submitted to Walsall Council, involve knocking down their centre in Pier Street, so the current supermarket in Silver Street can be doubled in size.

Nearby Ravenscourt shopping precinct also faces being knocked down in the scheme, which will see the defunct Brownhills Market revived at a new market square.

The centre is used by dozens of pensioners daily, for activities including bingo, card games and organising day trips.

The group is to be offered alternative accommodation, but members say they do not want to leave their current home and are raising a petition against the plans, which supported by Walsall Council.

Win Roberts, aged 92, of Daneswood Drive, Walsall Wood, is one of the oldest users and has been using the centre for over 20 years.

"There are not many places for elderly people to go nowadays," she said. "And it gives us somewhere where we can get together.

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"It helps get us out of the house; otherwise we would see very few people."

Eva Smith, 89, of James Walk, has been using centre for 29 years. "It's very sad after all these years. I came here with my husband before he died and now it is a place I can meet the friends we made.

Ivy Bayley, 89, of Robson Close, added: "We need our little centre, it was purpose built for us and it does a fantastic job of supporting elderly people, particularly widowers and widows."

Tom Kendal, 81, of Warren Place, has been on the committee of the centre for a number of years. "We run it ourselves and we pay for all the social events and gatherings," he said.

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"It gives people cheap days out every year and organises events like bingo and fish and chip supper evenings.

"It's a lifeline for elderly people in the area."

The senior citizens have received the backing of Labour Brownhills councillor Barbara Cassidy. She said: "This is a fantastic centre for our elderly residents and I really can't understand why Tesco and Walsall Council don't join forces to find a suitable new home for the club. I for one do not wish to see our elderly citizens thrown out on the street."

Regeneration chiefs at the council have said they are working with businesses in Ravenscourt precinct to find them new homes if the development goes ahead.

The new Tesco is poised to bring 100 jobs to the area. The proposed scheme would take up half of the existing Brownhills Market site in Silver Street although a patch of wasteland next to Kwik Fit has been earmarked for the stalls.

Walsall Council was unavailable for comment today.

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