Save our Sheringham - Say NO to Tesco

Monday, July 31, 2006

Bridgnorth find a way out

Bridgnorth’s long-running supermarket saga could come to a close today as district councillors discuss a controversial land agreement which is key to the proposals. A district council committee was meeting behind closed doors to talk about an agreement made in 2002 which meant a vital piece of land could only be sold to Tesco. If councillors decide to scrap the agreement it would pave the way for Sainsbury’s to extend its store at Smithfield and build the long-awaited Whitburn Street relief road. Permission for a new Tesco on the site was refused earlier this month after councillors said it would damage Bridgnorth’s economy.

If they can do it, why can't North Norfolk District Council?

Local producers face boxing match with supermarkets.

Tesco and Sainsbury have announced that they will start their own organic vegetable box schemes this autumn. Sandra Bell, real food campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “It will be a threat to the smaller, very genuinely local businesses that are running successful box schemes because Sainsbury’s and Tesco will be able to undercut them, which could put local farmers out of business.”

Friday, July 28, 2006

Tesco are big enough thanks.

The latest supermarket market share survey shows that Tesco have 31.5%. The next largest store was Asda with 16.6%. Given that the Monopoly Commission normally intervene at 25% isn't it about time that Tesco was prohibited from getting any bigger?

We are busy!

Just because you haven't seen any updates on this blog for a couple of days doesn't mean we are all on holiday. In fact we have been busier than ever. Pressure continues on the NNDC over their secret deals with Tesco and people are also working hard on getting as much publicity for the campaign as possible. Look out for the Save our Sheringham campaign during the carnival!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Tesco up to to usual tricks.

We are used to Tesco trying to delay inquiries for their own benefit but now they are being accused of stalling the Competition Commission’s (CC) grocery sector inquiry by asking for extra time to provide evidence of its business practices.
“It's quite a detailed questionnaire, but then it's a detailed inquiry. A lot of the answers we feel should not be too difficult to produce, but this delay is not unusual," a CC spokesperson said.
“This sometimes happens when we contact big companies for information. They don't always do cartwheels for you,” he added.

Allotment holders plant doubt in Tesco plans

The fact that the allotments at Weston Terrace should have been transferred to Sheringham Town Council as far back as 1999 has made the EDP this week. It was always going to be difficult for Tesco to build here because they needed to gain access across the Common, something the Town Council voted against allowing, but it does put another hurdle in their way.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Have your say on the proposed Tesco store

A copy of the brochure showing plans for the new store (as seen at the Community Centre) is now available on the SaveOurSheringham website. It is worth visiting just to see how much spin Tesco have used in their marketing. Then checkout the queries which challenge many of the statements made in the brochure. These have also been sent to who wants your comments on the proposed store. Why not let her know how you feel.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Were the council wrong?

You can now see the letter the Friends of the Earth sent to North Norfolk District Council challenging their decision to use the Tesco contract as a reason to approve the application. As said before on this blog it appears that the council confused their roles as "landowner" and "Local Planning Authority". As soon as I hear anymore on the Councils response it will be added to this blog.

If it is correct that the council were wrong in their interpretaion, then they must uphold their previous decision and reject the Tesco planning application when it is submitted.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A view from the front!

I received an email from a reader in Hunstanton, I was going to paraphrase it for you but I thought it was a shame to edit it so I have copied it below. -

"I confess I am in no position to help with this campaign, but I hope you win, and chuck Tesco's out of Sheringham.

We have few unspoiled places left in this country now, due to lots of reasons, I think best left unsaid about.

However, Tesco's can do little good in my eyes to Seaside towns.
Here at the Hunstanton Tesco's, I have noticed many prices are higher than their inland branches, and on-line. The reason being they can 'rip' off the holiday makers and tourist, who will pay whatever. Leaving us Pensioners and local residents to also have to pay the dearer prices so making life very hard for the poorer paid pensioners and limited income families. I have heard several people with the same complaint, but nothing is done about it.

I have written to Tesco's to complain about the price differences, but all they want is their crock of gold, and stoop to all depths to get it.
Pensioners are the hardest hit in all of Tesco's offers. No Pensioner or very few can afford to pay £50 or more on a shop at Tesco's to gain the 5p off a litre of petrol, so we can't gain there. You can get points for your electric bill if you are with Powergen, but if you are a pensioner and with Stay Warm for the over 60's via Powergen you don't get points. So you lose out there, and other niggly things too, so Tesco's are not Pensioner Friendly at all. As Sheringham is a sought after place for the elderly, as most seaside towns, I think maybe this should be considered in your fight against Tesco's.

I hope you win against Tesco's, and they do NOT come to ruin your town and tradespeople, cos that IS what will happen. Dewhurst have gone now in Hunstanton, and other little shops.

Tesco's are a KILLER as any other supermarket chain will be too.

Keep up the good fight.


Lots of food for thought there. Any other readers with stories to tell?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Lies, damned lies and statistics!

A Tesco spokesman at a meeting in Brighouse, Yorkshire where they are also fighting a new Tesco store, claimed that the Tesco in Stalham had rejuvenated the town. What he actually meant was that a survey of shoppers in Stalham showed that some 42% of people in Stalham now carried out their weekly food shop at Tesco but before Tesco arrived this was only 6%. The claim of rejuvenation was refuted by Nigel Dowdney, who runs the Stalham Shopper store and has been at the forefront of the anti-Tesco campaign. He said: "I am in the middle of Stalham and I know that they have not regenerated the town. The footfall has gone down dramatically over the years and has not recovered. When Tesco opened its supermarket the baker, the butcher, the fruit and veg shop, the fishmonger, the Co-op and Somerfield all closed."

Yet another example of Tesco playing by their own rules.

Protest raises profile

A successful protest outside the Tesco presentation (see BBC story) at the Community Centre on Saturday. Lots of support from drivers and passers-by with a few people still saying they want a Tesco. It is important than we get as many people as possible writing to the council to object to the current Tesco proposal so if you haven't yet done so visit our sister web page saveoursheringham to find out how and why to contact the local planners.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Tesco tries again

Tesco will be staging a public exhibition at the community centre on Cromer Road to explain their latest scheme. The Friday session is 12-8 and the Saturday one 10-2 - with displays to study, officials to chat to, and comment cards to be filled in. This is required before they can resubmit their planning application.
There will be some protests outside the event to ensure that people are made aware of the impact a store of this size and location will have on the town centre. If you are opposed to the Tesco application then please attend and let the Tesco representatives know how you feel and complete the comment cards.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Why can't NNDC do this?

Supermarket giant Tesco has lost its battle to build a controversial multi-million pound store in Bridgnorth. District councillors last night rejected plans for the store at Smithfield, claiming it would adversely affect the town’s economy. They also said Mercian Developments and Tesco had failed to provide enough information about the impact it would have on traffic. A simialr application was defeated at appeal last year.
Despite Bridgnorth appearing to have been tied into a deal with Tesco in much the same way as NNDC, the councillors have decided to reject the planning application. Let's hope our councillors have as much common sense.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Barker report is dangerous

A recent report by Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member Kate Barker into how the UK's cumbersome planning process can be made more efficient for businesses has raised concerns about the role comunities will have in future planning applications. The wide-ranging interim report says that the planning process is too complex and that delays can "hold back desirable economic investment". Although it goes on to say that reforms should take into account environmental and social concerns, many fear that the finished report will further alienate communities. Tesco states that it always engages with communities, welcomes "transparency and openness" and likes to hear people's views. In the spring Sir Terry Leahy, Tesco's chief executive, announced that Tesco would hold meetings with residents wherever it opens new stores. However, most Sheringham and Torrington residents believe that their voices have not been heard. This is why the final findings of the Barker Review, expected to be announced by the chancellor in November, will be so important.

Tesco swat away protests

At the Tesco AGM last Friday the campaigners from Sheringham did manage to ask the Tesco board some questions relating to the proposed store . The response was much as expected with Tesco chairman David Reid saying "You need to recognise that Tesco does an enormous amount of good."
The news coverage wasn't as much as we hoped, mainly due to the meeting coinciding with the anniversary of the London bombing last year. But at least Tesco know we aren't going to lay down and rollover.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Tesco and its lawyers in hot water.

The lawyers who acted for Tesco in Sheringham are facing an enquiry by the Competition Commission. The Competition Commission, which is already conducting a wide-ranging investigation of the grocery market, is to turn its gaze on contracts drafted by BLP between its client Tesco and the North Norfolk District Council. A spokesman said “Law firms act as the interface to these transactions, and competition law is a specialist field with which they have to interface. It is certainly an area we will be looking closely at.”

Sheringham takes the campaign to London

A group of campaigners from Sheringham will be at the Tesco AGM in London today to take advantage of a shareholders right to ask questions of the board. There will also be demonstrations outside the meeting. With the support of Friends of the Earth Tesco will be asked to pull out of towns that do not want them. The Guardian quotes the FoE as calling on Tesco to stand by the promise made in its community plan to properly consult locals before opening new stores. "Tesco must pull out of its 10-year battle to get planning permission for a new store in Sheringham if it truly wants to be considered a good neighbour."
Look out for the team on the news, if they can give up their time for Sheringham then please support them by making your views known.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Call for independent enquiry

Sheringham Town Council have voted 8-3 to contact the Local Government Ombudsman to request an independent enquiry into the Tesco deal with NNDC. Eroica Mildmay (Scamrod) said " It just goes to show the amount of deep-seated, profound concern about the whole saga, which won't go away".
Local campaigners have already contacted the ombudsman but the added weight of the Town Council may help persuade him to intervene.

FoE support our stance

It is interesting to see that the Friends of the Earth have written to the Council to challenge them on the items revealed in the report. It appeared, argued FoE's solicitor Gita Parihar, the council had confused its duties as a landowner with its duties as a planning authority. "This report raises serious issues of legal concern with regard to the conduct of your authority," she said. A spokesman for the council said when the letter was received, the authority would look into the matter.
Funnily enough I raised this matter on this blog on 22/6 and also wrote to the Head of the Council and all the councillors making the same point before they discussed the report on 28/6. They didn't reply so I have written to Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Communities with responsibility for councils and planning, to clarify whether the council as Landowner and the council as Local Planning Authority are separate entities and that a contract signed as Landowner cannot influence planning decisions. I am awaiting a response.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Another familiar tale.

Traders in Bridgnorth are to march to the town’s council offices next week to hand over a 4,250-name petition protesting against the proposed new Tesco store. The petition has been organised by pressure group Bridgnorth Against A Second Supermarket. The battle in Bridgnorth is an ongoing one. Tesco have signed a confidential commercial agreement with Bridgnorth District Council giving them exclusive rights to build a Tesco grocery store, a DIY store and a relief road on land which is used as a car park and outdoor market. Some of the land is owned by J Sainsbury (which has a supermarket on adjacent land) and the council will need to make compulsory purchase to make the Tesco bid a reality.
This has already been to the high court where the Tesco application was thrown out, paving the way for Sainsbury to expand and build the relief road. However they are unable to proceed because the council is tied up in knots with Tesco and cannot negotiate with any other parties. Result stalemate.
Background: Bridgnorth is a thriving market town, suporting a diverse range of individual shops, a J Sainsbury, a Somerfield, Co-op and Tesco Metro. The town has a farmers market on Friday & Saturday (in the high street) with a much larger general market on the land Tesco wish to occupy. Tesco are pressurising the council to push this through against the wishes of the local people. The study into effects of the arrival of Tesco show at least 6 small family owned individual business will fold.

Consumer rebellion!

An article in the Guardian reports that the campaign by some large stores to extend Sunday shopping has failed. Tesco pulled out of the campaign at the last minute to prevent further unpopularity. The article states that "the tide may be turning against the glib notion that ever-larger supermarkets and global brands equal the good life. A reaction against the shopping monoculture spreads far wider than a few old hippies or well-off olive-oil snobs. If people say they want a good range of basic local shops, run by men and women who know their customers, no mysterious iron law stops them having it. If the friendly high street is starting to look more attractive than the traffic jam and the tiresome schlep round the supermarket aisles, then why not engineer it - why not make the change? With planning laws, regulations on hours and a whole armoury of fiscal weapons, politics can deliver us whatever kinds of high streets we want.
All they have to do is stand up to the vast supermarket groups and food chains which are so lavish with their funding for lobbyists, suitable charitable works and advertising. All they have to do is to revisit their obsessions with entirely open markets and "flexibility". Yes, there might be fewer large companies ready to fund schools and sponsor government campaigns. But most of us could live with that. It's time, in short, for a little bit of consumer populism."
A well-supported campaign may not guarantee the result we want but the politicians will have to stand up and take note. So join-in and make a difference to the future of Sheringham.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

New sports/community centre?

I have just received a questionnaire from SheringhamPlus asking me to give my views on what sort of facilities I would like from a Community/Sports Centre. Thats OK, I don't mind doing that. But where do they plan to provide it?
The ideal place from my point of view is where the existing Community Centre is and maybe extending into the space currently used by the Fire Station. This is close to the town centre and ideally located for public transport. The only problem is that Tesco want to use this land for a supermarket. This is another reason why the council must get to grips with this issue and produce a plan for the whole of Sheringham that excludes Tesco from the decision making. Only then can the people of Sheringham decide what they want and where. Please fill in the questionnaire but make sure you add at the bottom that you want it located close to the town centre, preferably where the existing Community Centre is!

Lots of coverage of Saxmundham

Following the CPRE report into the success of Saxmundham since they saw off a Tesco store eight years ago there has been lots more coverage in the national and local press. The Norwich Evening News expands it to cover Hethersett which sees a Tesco Express arrrive in 5 weeks.
The Telegraph highlights the difference between Saxmundham and Stalham where both the Co-Op and Somerfield rapidly closed and the independent food shops are now struggling to survive.
The benefits of more local producers have been huge for the landscape, tourism and villages that have been kept alive, says the CPRE report. Once the local shops close then there is no demand for the banks or other local services and the area declines. Which outcome do we want for Sheringham?