Wiltshire

Chippenham election candidates divided over The Range plans

Fields next to the A350 in Chippenham
Image caption Campaigners say the development would be inappropriate for the site in Chippenham

A proposal by The Range to build a distribution centre and "flagship" store in Wiltshire has divided opinion among election candidates locally.

The retailer claims the plans for Chippenham would create 1,000 jobs and bring £31m into the economy each year.

However, of the five candidates vying to become the area's MP, one is totally against it and three admit to having questions over the proposed site.

Petitions for and against have been signed by thousands of people locally.

Image caption The application for the 72,000 sq m centre is yet to be discussed by Wiltshire Council

Conservative candidate Michelle Donelan said she could see both sides, but believes the consultation - which has now ended - was inadequate for something that is "dramatically going to change the town forever".

The application for the 72,000 sq m regional centre is yet to be discussed by Wiltshire Council, but the five candidates gave their views during an election debate recorded for broadcast by BBC Wiltshire.

Andy Newman, for Labour, said he was in support of the development and had been assured it would bring in 700 permanent skilled jobs and would "push up wages in the area".

In contrast, Green party candidate Tina Johnston said she was "totally against" it, suggesting the number of jobs suggested would be far higher than in reality.

Two candidates were happy with the plans but unconvinced about the location, with Julia Reid (UKIP) saying she believed it would be better sited closer to the motorway and further away from the town, where it would be less of a threat to town centre shops.

Finally, Liberal Democrat Duncan Hames said he welcomed the prospect of jobs for the town but was "not sure" whether the site was right.


The candidates for the constituency are:

Michelle Donelan, Conservative

Duncan Hames, Liberal Democrat

Tina Johnston, Green

Andy Newman, Labour

Julia Reid, UKIP


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