Sports Direct ‘plays a part’ in Eastern European racial tensions

Troy Kissane, who was the main spokesman during the Shirebrook protest rally on Saturday, addresses the crowd in Shirebrook Market Place.
Troy Kissane, who was the main spokesman during the Shirebrook protest rally on Saturday, addresses the crowd in Shirebrook Market Place.

Campaigner Troy Kissane feels the Sports Direct warehouse, which employs a large number of Eastern European employees in the town, has played a part in the difficulties now faced by Shirebrook.

Mr Kissane, of Together Shirebrook, said: “The main reason so many come to this area is for work at Sports Direct at Shirebrook.”

Mr Kissane recognised that many Eastern European residents have come to Shirebrook to earn money for their families but he is concerned about those who have been squandering their money on alcohol and have been involved in alleged anti-social behaviour.

He added: “Shirebrook is a proud town with ex-miners and their families but it is struggling and it does need change but not with Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley who has come in with his mega-millions.

“It would have been better if a retail park had been built rather than this massive warehouse with such poor working conditions.”

Shirebrook Town Council has previously described tensions in the town as a “ticking time-bomb” but conceded that it has no control over immigration and could only advise Derbyshire Constabulary on policing issues.

Council chairman Steven Fritchley has previously stated that Mike Ashley and Sports Direct have a moral obligation to the people of Shirebrook and he should be morally responsible for their workforce.

Some have argued that only Eastern European residents have been willing to take work at Sports Direct because of its zero-hours contract policy and this has led to an influx of immigrants to Shirebrook.

Bolsover MP Dennis Skinner says he has been demanding Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley and Sports Direct allow employees to join a trade union.

He added: “Mike Ashley seems to be able to flick a switch and get the Government to allow people to work at his factory with zero-hours contracts. Responsibility lies mostly at the door of Mike Ashley and Sport Direct.”

Concerning social unrest issues, a Sports Direct spokesman said: “This is a police matter and it would therefore be inappropriate for us to comment.

The spokesman added: “However, Sports Direct is working closely with members of the local community, including Bolsover District Council and other interested parties, as a leading partner in the NG20 Group to build a brighter and better future for Shirebrook.”

A spokesman for Bolsover District Council said: “We have been working with a wide range of partners and the community to build a better and brighter future for Shirebrook. We have helped establish the Shirebrook Forward NG20 group, which brings together a wide range of partners and the community, whose remit is far reaching in terms of improving the town. Focusing on better community cohesion, improving leisure provision and community facilities in the area and generally regenerating the town to get it back to the vibrant place it once was and we will continue to play an important role in this group with other key partners and the local community.