New job claims for proposed Mytholm Works supermarket & hotel don’t seem to stack up

The claim is that the proposed Mytholm Works supermarket and hotel would create 100 new jobs. I asked the developers’ planning agent, Richard Lee, where this figure came from. He said he’d tell me the source of this estimate, but hasn’t yet.

So rather than wait, I’ve done a bit of independent fact finding. Using the number of jobs at Hebden Bridge Coop and at a 56 bed Travelodge Hotel, along with Labour Force Survey 2009 figures for proportions of full time and part time retail jobs, it looks as if the proposed supermarket and hotel would create around 25 full time jobs and 47 part time jobs – 72 in all.

This doesn’t take into account the likely job losses in existing businesses that a new supermarket would cause.

38 Jobs at Hebden Bridge Coop

A Hebden Bridge Coop supervisor told me that this branch employs 38 staff, some part time, some full time, but couldn’t give me the breakdown of full time and part time jobs.  From shopping a lot at the coop I get the impression that probably most – or at least a significant proportion – of the shop staff are part time.

This impression is borne out by the 2009 Labour Force Survey which found that 55% of retail staff worked part time. (Source: Office for National Statistics, cited here. )

The proposed Mytholm Works supermarket would be a bit bigger than the HB Coop, so maybe you could add on another 10 staff, again a mix of full time and part time. If there were 48 staff (to HB Coop’s 38) and 55% were part time, that means there’d be 21 full time jobs and 27 part time jobs.

24 jobs at 56 bed Travelodge hotel

A new 56 bed Travelodge hotel advertised for 24 employees to run the hotel – 1 Assistant Lodge Manager, 3 Reception staff,  5 Night duty staff, 15 Guest room cleaners. Of these, only the first 4 look like full time jobs to me.

A realistic figure for new jobs at proposed supermarket & hotel development

So a realistic figure for new jobs at the proposed supermarket and hotel could be around 72 max, with maybe around 25 of these full time.

Minimum wage jobs

Would these jobs pay a decent wage and offer decent employee rights? The website  identifies the hotel and retail sectors as among those with the highest risk of low pay.

“Two-thirds of employees in the hotels & restaurants sector earn less than £7 per hour, three-fifths of them women.Half of employees in the retail & wholesale sector earn less than £7 per hour, again three-fifths of them women.”


“Much of the low pay in the hotels & restaurants and retail & wholesale sectors is in the younger age groups.  So, for example, of the 2 million workers in these sectors paid less than £7 per hour in 2010, 1 million (i.e. half) were aged under 25.” identifies the source of this information as the 2010 Labour Force Survey carried out by the Organisation for National Statistics.

Selling young people short

Hebden Royd Town Council’s Strategy and Review Committee is discussing the importance of setting up young people’s apprenticeship and training schemes, so that young people in the town have a chance to develop skills and employability. I can’t see how creating minimum wage, part time, unskilled hotel cleaning, night duty and shelf stacking supermarket jobs fits in with these aspirations for Hebden’s young people.

This is not disrespecting people who work at those jobs. Members of my family are among them. They work hard and do useful work.  But HR Town Council and Calderdale Council should surely be looking to support /approve developments that create skilled jobs that pay a decent living wage? And that are not likely to displace existing Hebden Bridge jobs by destroying or damaging local businesses?

Likely Hebden Bridge job losses from new supermarket

New jobs at the proposed supermarket and hotel need to be set against the likelihood that a new supermarket would damage existing Hebden Bridge businesses and cause job losses in these businesses.

For example, in 2006 a local Stalham businessman recreated a Council data gathering exercise, to measure the effect of a new Tesco on his town. He found that footfall to town centre businesses fell significantly, with the greatest reduction being 87%. His business turnover fell by 50%.

The loss or decline of local enterprises can have significant knock-on effects, since many local businesses buy from local suppliers (as in Totally Locally). If a local business declines or fails, its suppliers will also suffer.

The Association of Convenience Stores makes the point that the number of jobs that are likely to  be lost if a planned development goes ahead includes:

“jobs ‘lost’ because existing businesses decide not to expand or to delay employment because of the development, as well as those jobs lost through redundancy”

The Association of Convenience Stores also advocates that planners need to consider employment effects over an 18 month period from a store opening, since this is the length of time it takes for the employment impacts to work themselves through.

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