Scotmid has hit back at claims by council leader Jim McCabe that delays caused by their legal challenge contributed to Asda’s withdrawal.
The Viewpark councillor and North Lanarkshire Council leader described the Scotmid move as ‘frivolous’ and said the delay it caused was a factor in Asda’s withdrawl.
He said: “This situation could have been entirely avoided had Scotmid not instigated a frivolous and wholly unnecessary judicial review of the democratic decision of this council to grant permission for the development.
“Scotmid’s determination to cling on to their monopoly in Viewpark – to the detriment of the people they serve – caused months of avoidable delays.
“Had those delays not happened, the build would be progressing by now and the store opening would have gone ahead.”
But Malcolm Brown, Scotmid head of corporate communications, hit back at the leader’s comments.
He said: “We do not accept the claim by Councillor McCabe that Scotmid’s legal challenge, which was withdrawn in June, is the cause of Asda not progressing with its Viewpark store.
“The reason behind Asda’s decision is Asda’s own, and it is not Scotmid’s place to speculate about this.
“Councillor McCabe should, in fact, refer to Asda’s reasons for pulling out of their supermarket plans. These reasons have nothing to do with Scotmid.
“We would like to remind Councillor McCabe that Scotmid sought the judicial review at the start of this year because we had legitimate concerns surrounding the planning approval.
“After the council addressed these concerns in June, we withdrew our challenge. We will be seeking a meeting with Councillor McCabe to give him a better understanding of the situation and Scotmid’s continued commitment to the Viewpark area.
“I am particularly concerned about the use of the word ‘frivolous’ by Councillor McCabe, regarding Scotmid’s legal challenge.
“The planning application was recommended for refusal by the officials as it was contrary to the council’s own planning policy and national planning policy.
“Scotmid objected to the application on similar lines but also because of its importance that it should be decided by a meeting of the full council.
“These concerns were ignored by the councillors who proceeded to approve the application.
“Scotmid, on legal advice, raised legal proceedings because the decision of the Council was legally flawed. Scotmid withdraw its legal challenge only after the council had (1) taken its decision back to committee in an attempt to retake the original decision and (2) completed a replacement legal agreement.
“This indicates the council’s acceptance that its original decision was legally flawed and Scotmid were justified in taking legal proceedings against them.
“I would like to reiterate that Asda’s decision to withdraw from their intended development is entirely their own commercial decision.”