Sunday, December 18, 2011

A visit to the pharmacy

Whickham Pharmacy Dec 11

I went to Whickham Pharmacy on Wednesday, not because of anything to do with my state of health (political opponents will be delighted to know that I am in the best of shape!). The visit was on the invitation of the owner of the business, Mark Burdon. In the summer he contacted me to help with a planning application. At that point his shop was in a smaller unit but a bigger shop had become vacant on the other side of the road. He didn't need planning permission to move his pharmacy business into it but he needed to put in a planning application to change one of the upstairs rooms into a clinic. That's when the problem arose as incorrect rumours started to circulate as to what the purpose of the upstairs clinic was to be. The actual purpose is for cosmetic surgery such as administering botox. Mark therefore got in touch with me.

I agreed to speak to the other businesses in the area and I held a meeting at which Mark could meet the other shopkeepers to discuss their concerns. Mark then showed me the premises into which he was planning to move and explained the functions that would be carried out.

I had already applied to speak to the planning committee on behalf of the other businesses to raise their concerns so at the planning meeting, Mark's agent was able to allay the concerns of the other traders. The planning committee therefore voted unanimously for the application.

The move has meant the business has been able to expand, taking on additional staff and an apprentice. The new pharmacy is now open and Mark showed me and a colleague, John McClurey, around the new premises. John previously could not be involved as he is on the planning committee.

Whickham village has been feeling the strain for the past two decades of having the Metrocentre close by. The regular meetings I have with business people in the Village keep me up to date with the struggle this modest centre is having against the giants down the road. It is therefore good news to see one of the businesses expanding, taking on new staff and training young people.

Photo: me, Mark Burdon (who runs the pharmacy) and my colleague Cllr John McClurey behind the counter of the new Whickham Pharmacy.

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