Tesco has been accused of launching a spin campaign in order to defend its position as a market heavyweight as the Competition Commission inquiry into the grocery sector prepares to release its initial findings. The Talking Tesco website – which was intended to “set the record straight” about its projects – has come under fire. Graham Hoenes, a resident of Gerrards Cross, a Buckinghamshire town that saw a store that Tesco was trying to build over a railway line collapse, said: “They should rename it Talking Bollocks. Instead of putting the record straight, Tesco has just twisted the truth. Their comments are absolutely wrong.” Hoenes systematically dismissed Tesco’s claims that the Gerard’s Cross store was an “edge-of-town” development, that local residents supported the move and that there was a need for the store. Mr Hoenes was also critical of the Parish Council for accepting money from Tesco to help with a range of local community initiatives. "It was considered by most [residents] to be bribery," he said. In response to Tesco's assertion that "planning permission cannot be bought [and that] they work within the grain of the planning regime," Mr Hoenes points to the £12m contribution Tesco made to the Dome project around the time of planning appeal regarding the Gerrards Cross store. "Tesco employs the best legal and planning brains possible. Councils are cash-strapped. Draw your own conclusions on Tesco's influence," he adds
Tesco has also picked apart a submission from Lady Caroline Cranbrook, a rural campaigner who believes that big supermarkets damage local economies by forcing small shops out of business, said: “It just depresses me when they deny that opening a superstore has an effect on small shops. It’s very difficult arguing with them when they argue that black is white.”
A Tesco spokesman said: “The whole point of Talking Tesco is to put the other view. We don’t expect everybody to agree with what we say. There isn’t a right or wrong on some of these issues.”
The Tesco comments about their plans for Sheringham also include a lot of misleading information. Look out for a fuller item soon.