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Sainsbury's comment 12 September

Council unlawfully blockades Sainsbury's store

Slough Times gets Sainsbury's access re-opened

Report and photographs: Paul Janik
Slough Council prevents customers shopping at Sainsbury's
Blockade removed after Slough Times complaint
Farnham Road looking west into Montrose Avenue

Sainsbury's supermarket, at 419 Farnham Road, Slough is open until 22:00 hours Mondays to Saturdays inclusive. Many people know that, but not Slough's chaotic failing local council.

On Wednesday evening, 6 September, bungling highways department staff blocked-off Montrose Avenue, the side road leading to Sainsbury's car park, while Sainsbury's was open for business and when customers' and staff cars were parked in the supermarket's car park.

Road resurfacing was happening, not in Montrose Avenue, but around the corner in Perth Avenue. Motorists found they could not get to Sainsbury's because physical barriers blocked-off Montrose Avenue.

A Slough Times investigation found a highways department official, Shahzad Khan, wearing a high visibility yellow jacket and a yellow hard hat, standing on the Perth Avenue pavement next to the roadworks.

Perth Avenue roadworks.

Friendly Mr Khan, who first appeared as a Slough Council Highways Inspector in 2004, was surprised Sainsbury's was open – despite the store's lights being on, people moving about in the store and cars parked in the store's car park – and even more surprised to learn motorists were blocked from entering the road into Sainsbury's car park.

The council's highways official, despite being officially on duty was oblivious to what was happening.

When asked why the road into Sainsbury's car park was closed, during the supermarket's normal, well publicised, opening times, highways official Mr Khan said he did not know. However he did say a leaflet – details unknown – had apparently been given to an unknown Sainsbury manager on an unknown date.

Inside the supermarket, staff said they wondered why customer numbers were drastically reduced. All Sainsbury staff spoken to said they were totally unaware of the road closure. Some said it was a crazy thing for Slough Council to do when the supermarket was open for customers and without proper notice.

Slough Council's communications team/press office refused to comment – probably they have exhausted their list of lamentable excises for this latest display of council gross incompetence.

24 hours later: Sainsbury's is open and so is the road

The Slough Times emailed a detailed complaint to council bosses including the executive councillor for highways, Cllr Fiza Matloob, asking them to justify the unlawful blockade of Sainsbury's during normal opening hours. After a delay of 2 days, a council assistant stated the Transport and Highways Manager, name unknown, will reply hopefully within 2 weeks.

Meanwhile the Slough Times efforts ensured the road was unblocked the following evening, Thursday 7 September.

Sainsbury's furious

A senior Sainsbury's source exclusively told the Slough Times:

We are furious with Slough Council's claim Sainsbury's agreed to the road closure during our store's opening hours.

We never agreed to the road closure.

Slough Council deliberately closed the road during our opening times when our customers were shopping inside our store. Arriving customers were turned-away by the council's road closure.

These clowns refuse to listen to businesses. They don't care. They do what they like and everyone suffers. It is unbelievable.

Slough Council's highways department (including transport and parking) has an unimpressive record of incompetence, laziness and the occasional falsification of official council records to conceal evidence. Plus the inevitable corruption™ that is an ubiquitous Slough Council trademark.

The Slough Times is disappointed to observe the failure of the council's highways boss Savio de Cruz, to motivate his staff into delivering quality professional work to the citizens and businesses of Slough.

Inevitably one wonders if Mr de Cruz, employed as a Civil Engineering Technician in 2003 and who stayed at the council for many years, is able to satisfy our town's demanding needs for a high quality highways service.