A LONG-SERVING newsagent has accused Tesco of taking “the heart and soul” out of York, as she faces closure after 28 years in business.

D & M Atherton Ltd, in Nessgate, is set to close on Saturday, and owner Janet Hancock says it is partly because trade has declined since Tesco opened nearby and partly because of the controversial proposals for more shopping at Monks Cross.

Mrs Hancock, 55, has run the business since her father retired in 1984 and said she noticed a huge change in custom from the day Tesco Express arrived on Low Ousegate. The supermarket giant has since also opened a store in Piccadilly and is planning to open in Goodramgate.

She said: “They took a big chunk out of our trade. We have had a lot of loyal customers over the years and they kept us going for a while, but there comes a point where you just think, why?

“Tesco claim they want to put the heart and soul back into their business, but my feelings are that they have taken the heart and soul out of York.

“They may be creating 20 new jobs with the new shop, but over the past year, 12 jobs have been lost here.”

Mrs Hancock also criticised the proposed £200 million retail development at Monks Cross. She said: “The proposals played a huge part in my decision to close and the new development will have a big effect on small local businesses.”

The newsagent is named after Mrs Hancock’s parents, Douglas and Mary Atherton. The family once had seven shops to their name, but the Nessgate one is the last and is set to close next Saturday.

Mrs Hancock said even after she took over the business, her father retained a keen interest for how the shop was doing. “He would always ask how things were going, if we were with the same accountant, everything.”

Mr Atherton passed away two months ago and she said: “I’m just glad I never had to tell him I had to close the shop.”

It is believed the shop has been a newsagents since the 1930s. Late in the 19th century, it was originally department store Browns’ first commercial premises.

Mrs Hancock said: “I’d like to thank all of our loyal customers, some of whom have been with us since before we took over. Many people have been coming in and telling us they’ve been coming into the shop since they were children.

“I very much appreciate their custom.”

Tesco declined to comment when contacted by The Press.