Attempts to reopen a local pharmacy have been met with another obstacle as retail giant Boots is objecting to the plan.

Rowlands shut the Rodbourne Road pharmacy in October 2021 moving operations to the Park Lane store. This led to an independent pharmacist attempting to reopen it. 

Locals wrote hundreds of letters supporting the new owners, but Rowlands, who chose to close the store, attempted to block the move stating it will harm their business at Park Lane.

It has now been joined by heath and beauty retail giant Boots, with the company sending a letter to NHS Resolution to say that it had not "had sight of any evidence" of difficulty patients had in accessing the Park lane store. 

Residents said the underpass along the route was unsafe and impractical, especially for the elderly, parents using pushchairs and wheelchair/mobility users.

But the letter from Boots countered this with a Google image picture of the underpass dismissing those concerns because it is a "tarmacked path" in "good order" and it is "lit". 

Claire Brittain, commenting on behalf of Boots, added it did not "believe that there is a requirement for an additional contract in this locality." 

Swindon Advertiser: Labour councillors outside the pharmacy after NHS England rules it could not be merged with Park LaneLabour councillors outside the pharmacy after NHS England rules it could not be merged with Park Lane

The Swindon Labour group, which campaigned to save the pharmacy after Rowlands had previously failed to merge it with the Park Lane store, has slammed Boots for its dismissal of the public.

The newly elected leader of the group and ward councillor, Jim Robbins, said: "I was really frustrated to see another company trying to stop the residents of Rodbourne from having the Pharmacy that they have been fighting for so long.

"Boots, like Rowlands Pharmacy, are just using their corporate muscle to stop the local team setting up on Rodbourne Road, where local residents have repeatedly demonstrated their wish for a Pharmacy, to try to protect their own profits.

"It is particularly galling to see a Boots Executive, sat in their posh Nottingham Headquarters, try to dismiss the views of local residents that the path under the railway bridge is unpleasant, just because they have seen a picture of it on Google streetview.

"I trust that the NHS commissioning team will place more weight on the lived experience of Rodbourne residents than on the views of a well paid executive trotting out the company line to protect Boots’ profits."

Mr Robbins wrote to Boots to express his unhappiness at their actions and received a response explaining it was entitled to have its say. 

"I am sorry that you are disappointed to see our letter in response to the appeal submitted by Rowlands for a new pharmacy contract in Rodbourne," it said

"You may be aware that all interested parties are invited by NHS Resolution to submit their representations as part of the regulatory process.

"NHS Resolution will then proceed on the basis of the information provided by all parties involved and determine the appeal accordingly.

"Should you wish to comment on any responses submitted, this can be done through NHS Resolution for consideration."