An MP has thrown his weight behind a bid to bring high-street restaurant chain Nando’s to one of the country’s favourite market towns.
Guy Opperman was approached by a group of teenagers keen to see a branch of the Portuguese eatery in Hexham, Northumberland.
The Conservative MP for Hexham has voiced his support for the youngsters’ campaign, saying a national chain would help secure the prosperity of Hexham’s high street.
“It is great to see young people getting engaged and making their voice heard,” he said. “I am personally a big fan of our wonderful small shops and independent restaurants in Hexham.
“However as part of my ‘In Hexham, for Hexham’ campaign, I have been very keen on ensuring our town also attracts it fair share of national chains. We have already had some success with thanks to the new Next store and Railway Goods Yard development.
“The rents in Hexham are very high and so too are the business rates. Sadly, a lot of small retailer come and go. As a town, we need to work with big high-street names.
“Anyone who would rather eat or shop in Hexham rather than travel to the Metrocentre has my support.”
Back in 2002, nearly 2,000 people fought to stop fast food giant McDonalds from building a Drive-Thru restaurant in Hexham. Families in the town joined forces to form the Hexham North Residents’ Association in a bid to thwart McDonalds’ proposals to build a 60-seater burger bar next door to their homes.
However, town councillor Derek Kennedy, who headed the campaign 11 years ago, last night said he is not opposed to the idea of a Nando’s in Hexham.
“It’s good to see empty retail space being used,” he said. “Hexham’s high-street was looking bad last year, but in the past few months it’s started to look better. I think it’s time to be realistic about our high-street and the balance we need between national chains and smaller retailers.”
A spokesperson for Nando’s said there were currently no plans to open a branch in Hexham.