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Parties Split On Future Of Town

A war of words blew up last week as rival politicians came to terms with Sainsbury's decision not to open a store in Wealdstone.

Tory councillors claimed that little progress had been made in regenerating the beleaguered town centre as Labour remained fixated on encouraging the supermarket giant to open a store in the High Street.

However, Councillor Keith Burchell (Labour), chairman of the Wealdstone regeneration steering group, who came under fire during an extraordinary meeting of Harrow Council on Thursday last week, insisted progress was being made.

"This is not just about a supermarket. There are a number of regeneration proposals for the whole of Wealdstone," he said.

"Community groups and local businesses have organised themselves to try and regenerate the community. In addition, £3 million worth of funding has already been promised."

The supermarket decided to pull out two weeks ago because it felt the scheme would not have been viable due to a conflict between the size of the development and the cost of acquiring the land.

Shortly afterwards, Harrow Council said it would re-examine the options for generating additional investment in Wealdstone and build upon current initiatives.

However, Cllr Eileen Kinnear (Con) questioned the chairman on whether he agreed that 'traders, Liberal Democrat members and Conservative members have been voicing doubts for the past 15 months at least that Sainsbury's would ever build a supermarket in Wealdstone'.

Tomorrow (July 27), regeneration moves forward with a £2.3 million facelift of Harrow and Wealdstone station.

Railtrack is paying the majority, with the council contributing £200,000 and Silverlink Trains £600,000.

The station will remain open during the refurbishment, which is scheduled for completion in 2002.

Later this year, Harrow has pledged another £400,000 for work around the station to improve bus stops, access for pedestrians and parking.

By.Rachel Clarke

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