SAFEWAY bosses have exclusively unveiled to the Citizen a secret plan to kill off objections to their new superstore.

They have retained the two bowling greens and made giant strides to appease opposition, begging the question: "Is this all right, Jack?"

And it looked yesterday (April 22) as if the answer was going to be a resounding "yes" as the majority of councillors looked favourably on the detailed plans they were shown.

Council leader Paul Hayhurst set the mood by telling the Citizen: "This is obviously an improvement on the previous scheme and I feel we have got to consider it for the future of St Annes.

"No-one wants to see the town die and this will help revitalise it."

Kirkham councillor Liz Oades said she had seen Kirkham rejuvenated by the recent opening of a Safeway store.

"I am delighted with the St Annes plan and think it will help the town to flourish in the same way," she added.

Her colleague Jim Dignan commented: "I think it's a positive development and if the people of St Annes can accept losing a very small part of Ashton Gardens they will reap the benefits."

Even the stallholders who will be directly affected by the sale of the indoor market are raising few objections, with many already thinking of selling up.

Brian Jump, the longest-serving leaseholder, commented: "They can take the market.

"I wouldn't object as long as they offered us sufficient compensation.

"The market is starting to struggle so we can't really object and this building is archaic now.

"It will be very silly if the town doesn't take up Safeway's offer."

Brian Marsh from Fenton's Florist agreed, adding: "I'm all for it - it makes good, plain sense for the town.

"Anything which brings money into a dying area is to be welcomed.

"Of course, we still have to talk about it, but it looks like we are being well looked after."

Not everyone is happy, however.

Planning chairman Bill Thompson told the Citizen: "Safeway has tried very hard but is still proposing to take away a part of the gardens.

"My main worry is the traffic congestion caused by a store of this size.

"I'm disappointed that the car park will be for store customers only, as you have to pay as you enter and get a refund from the till on the way out of the store.

"It's not the car park that St Annes desperately needs."

Former mayor Alfred Jealous, who was shouted down at the meeting when he demanded to know how much Safeway would pay for the land, added: "The car park is still there regardless of them saying they are using less land and I see no reason for me to change my mind or the Save Ashton Garden group to change theirs.

"The bowlers will be happy because it's the proper place for them to be and it was ridiculous to suggest they should be anywhere else.

"I still say it will change the whole face of Ashton Gardens as we know it."

After the meeting, Tracy Hostler from Safeway commented: "I think it went very well.

"The people I have spoken to have said the new plan is an improvement on last time."

A public meeting will be held on May 21 by Fylde Borough Council to discuss the whole principle of the sale of Ashton Gardens.

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.