Save our Sheringham - Say NO to Tesco

Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Christmas

Well, 2006 is nearly over and there is no Tesco in Sheringham yet. This is due to the hard work of all those campaigners and citizens who took the time to let those in authority know how they felt. Without all your support Tesco would have succeeded in overpowering the NNDC and would by now have received approval for their new store.
The only thing I can promise for 2007 though, is that Tesco will be back with a new proposal. Whether this is on the existing Fire Station/Youth Centre site or a new plan to include the Station Road car park we can only guess, but we must and will be ready to continue our fight.

Enjoy any holidays you have planned in the next few days and savour the festive atmosphere in Sheringham with its small shops and local feel. It could be your last chance.

Thanks again for all your support during 2006.
Have a Merry Christmas and let's hope 2007 makes us even happier!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Torrington say no to Tesco

Tesco, the UK's largest retailer, has been forced to abandon plans to build a superstore in the Devon town of Torrington following a campaign to block the development by local residents and businesses. The retailer had applied to build a store on a local playing field, causing concerns that it would damage the vitality of the town centre. On Thursday, Torridge District Council's planning committee voted by 13-1 to give the green light to a rival proposal by Somerfield for a smaller development.
Local resident Michael Street said: "Tesco's turkey has been well and truly stuffed. The war with Tesco has been won by people power and common sense."
Planning officers said that although Tesco had reduced its proposal's size from 4,406 sq m to 2,654 sq m, it was still felt the store would "adversely affect the vitality and viability of the town centre". Somerfield's 1,115 sq m store will be situated in a nearby former industrial yard.
A Tesco spokesman said that the retailer was disappointed at the decision. "We are considering our options [about whether to appeal]. We believe that the store would benefit local people," he said, adding that Tesco's own research showed that "the majority of people were in favour of the store".
Local controversy was heightened by the proposed location of Tesco's store on a football pitch, swimming pool and children's play area called Vicarage Field. Residents were upset that Torridge District Council, which owns the land, would also make the decision on whether the development went ahead or not. Geoffrey Cox, the local Conservative MP, wrote to Ruth Kelly, the local government minister, alleging a conflict of interest and demanding a full public inquiry.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Bad marks for Tesco

Pedants across the land applauded a few years ago when Marks & Spencer removed offensive "six items or less" signs from its stores. Good English demands "six items or fewer", which was the wording M&S adopted. Similarly, the company this year withdrew a line of children's pyjama tops showing a picture of two giraffes below the words "baby giraffe's". Quite right, too: no child should sleep in a garment sporting a stray apostrophe. So a reporter was expecting thanks from Tesco for alerting it to the fact that its store in Islington, north London, is repeating the old M&S howler. "Ten items or less", the signs say. But Tesco responded this way: "Our research shows customers actually feel more comfortable with the wording 'or less'. However, we always keep these things under review."
What? Tesco, we know, worships at the altar of customer choice but the only choice here is between correct and incorrect wording. The comfort of Tesco's customers, poor lambs, is irrelevant. It is simply not in Tesco's gift to change the language. Some things remain beyond its realm.
By the way, has anybody encountered Tesco's linguistic researchers? Do they loiter among the fruit and veg asking if shoppers would prefer their tomatoes without an 'e'?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Suppliers urged to come forward.

The Competition Commission has written again to supermarket suppliers urging them to submit evidence of unfair practice by the food giants because so few have come forward. It is felt that suppliers are fearful that their identities will be uncovered and that they will lose business.
The Commission is due to publish the first stage of its probe before Christmas. However, the Commission has indicated the timetable may slip, with publication occurring in early January. A spokesperson said 'We are still aiming for December but there is a possibility that if we get too close to Christmas we will delay it until early January.'

Impact of Barker Report sinks in.

Supermarket giants are preparing to build hundreds of new stores in Britain as a key restriction limiting their growth looks set to be lifted. The report by Kate Barker into the planning system last week recommended the abandoning of the so-called 'needs test'. This permits the building of major shopping schemes only if an area's population is deemed to have insufficient retail space. Asda Wal-Mart has long lobbied for abandoning the needs test in order to allow the free market to decide how many supermarkets there should be.But MPs and green campaigners say it could spell disaster for small shops and run counter to efforts to stem climate change. It has been likened to bringing back Thatcherite out-of-town development policies that killed off urban centres. 'Getting rid of the needs test means that hundreds of new supermarkets will open,' said James Lowman of the Association of Convenience Stores. 'This will mean oversupply and smaller, less powerful businesses going under.' A former aide to John Prescott, who until last May was in charge of the planning system, said that the Deputy Prime Minister had spent most of his four years in that role resisting Treasury moves to allow pure economic interests to hold sway over planning matters. This, he said, was now being undone. Ruth Kelly, the communities and local government secretary and a former Treasury minister, is now considering whether to include the measure in a planning white paper due this spring.
Andrew Simms, influential policy director at the New Economics Foundation, said: 'This takes us back to the Eighties and would be armageddon for town centres and small shops.' 'There's a danger this could be a charter for carpeting the country with supermarkets,' said Gideon Amos, chief executive of the Town and Country Planning Association. A senior Whitehall insider said: 'I think there's a lot of good in the Barker report but this is the one item she has got wrong because it's almost impossible for a local authority to insist development should go in town centres without the needs test. It won't be quite the free for all of the Ridley era under Margaret Thatcher but it will lead without question to a significant amount of out-of-town development. It also cuts across the environmental agenda. It runs contrary to what we're trying to do.' LibDem shadow communities and local government secretary Andrew Stunell said: 'The needs test is there for a good reason because town centres in the Eighties declined terribly. Lifting this would be a body blow.'
A government spokesman said that there would remain a town centre impact assessment that local councils could use to turn down developments but critics say this is insufficient to deter new stores.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Out of town superstores back on the agenda.

Hundreds more out-of-town supermarkets and shopping centres could be built under the planning shake-up proposed in the Barker report. Currently, developers have to go through a so-called 'needs test' to show there is a genuine demand to build in the countryside.
They have to demonstrate the scheme would provide shops and services that are not already available in nearby town centres. However, the Barker Report proposes that this vital safeguard is abandoned. Separately, she also suggests that local councils or the Office of Fair Trading could be given powers to pick and choose which retailers are allowed to open new or extended stores.
Friends of the Earth supermarkets campaigner Sandra Bell said: 'The removal of the needs test on developers of new out-of-town stores and malls would be devastating for the traditional high street. It will inevitably make the building of these malls and supermarkets much easier. That will suck the lifeblood from small stores and town centres.'
The New Economics Foundation is concerned that the increasing dominance of the big chains is creating a nation of 'cloned towns'. Policy director, Andrew Simms, complained: 'The watering down of local planning and decision-making power is a charter for clone towns, wildly out of touch with what people want. This is like a throw-back to the bad old days of the 1980s when the wishes of local people and their councillors were swept aside in favour of what the supermarkets wanted.'
Tesco welcomed attemps to drop the needs test. A spokesman said: 'We have always said that the needs test is a source of complexity and cost to business.We would be happy to see it go.'

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Baker Review of Planning laws issued

A report, commissioned by the Treasury, calling for more building on green belt land in England has been criticised by environmental groups. Friends of the Earth said proposals in the Barker Review would have "a devastating impact on the environment and local democracy". The study also calls for an independent planning body to judge on major proposals like airport extensions. It says England's planning system must be made quicker and simpler and that the appeals process needs speeding up. Central to the report's key authors approach is a belief that any building project that has little or no impact on others should be given the go-ahead, whether it is a private extension, the restoration of an empty building in a town, or even in some cases the development of low-value farmland within green belt areas. Economist Kate Barker, points out that contrary to public perception just under 13.5% of England is actually developed, while the green belt surrounding cities covers almost 13% of the country. "The land that can be developed with the least likely environmental or wider social impact is low-value agricultural land with little landscape quality and limited public access," says the report. "Regional and local planning bodies should review their green belt boundaries to ensure they remain relevant and appropriate."
In particular the review has assessed:
ways of further improving the efficiency and speed of the system;
ways of increasing the flexibility, transparency and predictability that enterprise requires;
the relationship between planning and productivity, and how the outcomes of the planning system can better deliver its sustainable economic objectives; and
the relationship between economic and other sustainable development goals in the delivery of sustainable communities

Q & A

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

BBC documentary update

If you have been waiting eagerly to see the BBC documentary on supermarkets and in particular the Sheringham campaign then don't despair. It has been put back until January to coincide with the Competition Commission releasing their interim report. It is likely to be aired at 9:15am after the Breakfast show.
Keep an eye on your Radio Times!

Tesco growth slows

Tesco Plc, Britain's biggest retailer, said U.K. sales growth slowed in the third quarter as price cuts on clothing and alcoholic drinks failed to lure shoppers from Sainsbury and Asda stores. Sales at stores open at least a year rose 5.6 percent in the 13 weeks ended Nov. 25, down from a 6.6 percent pace in the second quarter.
Tesco has piled on market share in recent years, branching out of its traditional food business into more profitable clothing, household goods and financial services sectors as well as expanding internationally. Having pulled in customers with price cuts, it now accounts for almost one pound in every three spent in British supermarkets.
Yet, competition has toughened in recent months as grocery rivals Sainsbury and Marks & Spencer proved quicker at responding to shoppers shift away from price to better-quality and ethical produce.

Customer loyalty falls at Tesco.

An analysis of consumer brand loyalty for the top 10 grocery stores in the UK, carried out by brand market research consultancy Millward Brown last month, shows that while measures of customer loyalty have dropped significantly for supergiant Tesco (down to no 6 from its no 1 position in 2004), Waitrose is the store that consumers have most loyalty to, followed by M&S and Sainsbury's. Aldi and Lidl also score higher than Tesco and Asda in the customer loyalty ranking for the first time.
Its measures of customer loyalty (the Voltage Measure, which also is a good indication of likelihood of the brand to grow) has dropped significantly since its top position in 2004 to just +0.5 (o is average score) and now ranks 6th. Waitrose has a score of 6.9 followed by M&S at 4.8 and Sainsbury's at 3.4.
According to Peter Walshe, global brand director at Millward Brown who manages the BrandZ study, “Waitrose is maintaining a unique identity that appeals to consumers, while M&S is recovering strongly and Sainbury's is getting its confidence back. The huge decline in customer loyalty for Tesco, at a faster rate than any other British grocery store, is an indication that many consumers are acting on a growing desire to buy quality products whatever the price. Sales of Tesco are doing well despite dropping customer loyalty”, concluded Walshe. “They are still the most popular British supermarket. British consumers like to grumble but often act differently: convenience and location play a big part in their decision to continue to shop at Tesco.”