Almost 300 shoppers queued for hours in the bitter cold for the opening of the new Aldi store in Slaithwaite.

First in the queue, which snaked around the car park, was former Slaithwaite book shop owner and mum-of-eight Melanie Roberts, 61.

Ms Roberts, of West Slaithwaite, a previous chairman of the Slaithwaite Business Association, turned up at midnight well wrapped up and with a wooden chair – and sat at the head of the queue for eight hours.

Her prize for being first in line for the 8am opening was a £100 store voucher, which she spent on food.

Ms Roberts, who stood for UKIP in the Colne Valley at the 2010 General Election and came second in the Kirklees Council elections in May, said it was the first time she had done anything like this before.

“I was keen to see what this new Aldi store was all about so I thought I might as well do it properly,” she said.

Gran of 12 Ms Roberts, who hopes to stand for UKIP again in next year’s General Election, said her original intention was to get there for 5am but she read on the internet that some shoppers at other Aldi stores started queuing at 9.30pm the night before.

“I decided to set off at 11.30pm and got there at five minutes to midnight,” she said. “Another car came at 12.15am, went away, and returned at 12.45am and more started arriving after 2am.

Store Manager at Aldi Slaithwaite Simon Dean and £100 voucher winner Melanie Roberts who was first in queue.
Store Manager at Aldi Slaithwaite Simon Dean and £100 voucher winner Melanie Roberts who was first in queue.
 

“I live in a house with no central heating so I am used to the cold. I had a jumper over a T-shirt, a bodywarmer and jeans and tights. I had a hat but I was too warm with that on.”

The first 100 people received golden tickets and won various prizes including store vouchers, 7in tablets, smart phones, in-car DVD players and goodie bags worth £20.

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Plans for the Aldi store, built on the site of the former Colne Mills badly-damaged by fire in August last year, caused an outcry with many villagers saying the German discounter would destroy local trade.

The plans – which split the village – were narrowly approved by Kirklees Council amid fears of traffic problems in the village centre.

Ms Roberts added: “I think Aldi have been very good and it would be wrong of me to say any different.

“It’s going to bring costs down for a lot of people and with the austerity problems that’s very much needed.

The staff at the new Aldi in Slaithwaite
The staff at the new Aldi in Slaithwaite
 

“I don’t think it will affect the individual shops as they will keep their clientele but it will shake up the Co-op. The Co-op needed shaking up though.”

Ms Roberts said she could see both sides of the argument and added: “From the consumer’s point of view it will be a good thing but the shopkeepers will want to see the traffic side sorted.

“What works for the people ultimately works for Aldi as well.”

The store in Britannia Road has 90 parking spaces.