Marks and Spencer: Tory MP Nick Fletcher blames mayor for store's closure

A Doncaster Conservative MP has laid the blame for the closure of the city centre Marks and Spencer store on the city’s mayor.
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The High Street retail giant announced it will close the Baxtergate and Frenchgate branch next summer, transferring trade to an expanded out of town store at Wheatley Retail Park on Wheatley Hall Road.

Now Don Valley Tory MP Nick Fletcher has taken aim at Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones over the closure saying: “We cannot let this trend carry on.”

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He posted on Facebook: “I am very sad to read of the imminent closure of this store in our town centre.

Doncaster Tory MP Nick Fletcher has blamed the closure of Marks and Spencer on Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones.Doncaster Tory MP Nick Fletcher has blamed the closure of Marks and Spencer on Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones.
Doncaster Tory MP Nick Fletcher has blamed the closure of Marks and Spencer on Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones.

“The Mayor has to start listening to me. We cannot let this trend carry on."

The MP linked to a list of proposals he drafted up two years ago which he says will transform the city centre.

His plan, which he described as “radical” includes scrapping park and ride schemes, scrapping pedestrianisation and one way systems, allowing cars and buses to use city centre streets, free parking for all and increased police patrols for safety.

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He added: “We all know that our city centre is in decline. We’ve all watched it get worse over time.

“The Mayor knows it too.

“There is no doubt that online shopping has a part to play in why retailers in the centre sell less than they used to. However it’s not the only reason.

“If you make it difficult to get to somewhere and it’s easier to go somewhere else then it’s not surprising that people go there.

“Pedestrianisation has throttled the life out of our city. It’s a great idea on paper but like socialism it doesn’t work in practice. Let’s open up our centre once again. Get rid of the one way systems and the wide pavements. Let’s return it to what it was when it was thriving.

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“Let’s watch people come back to the centre and let’s do it now before it’s too late.”

He added: “That was way back in 2022. She’s had her time and has wasted so many years since her election in 2013. #ElevenWastedYears.

“It’s time for a change.”

Rumours of the store’s closure have been circulating for months – but this morning M&S confirmed the shutdown – and the plan to move into a new and extended store at Wheatley Retail Park.

Kerry Ely, M&S Regional Manager, said: “Shopping habits are changing, so we’re rotating our store estate to make sure we have the right stores with the right space to offer customers a brilliant shopping experience.

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We’re excited to be announcing a £7m investment today to extend our Wheatley Hall Road Simply Food store in the Wheatley Centre Shopping Park, tripling its size to deliver a bigger foodhall and brand-new spacious and stylish 20,000 sq ft clothing and home department.

"This follows a £21m investment last year in new stores across Yorkshire.

“Once the extension is complete in summer 2025, our Baxter Gate store will close. We are offering our colleagues alternative roles at M&S and in the meantime, we look forward to continuing to serve our customers across Doncaster.”