Save our Sheringham - Say NO to Tesco

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tesco carbon footprint bigger than Mauritius

Tesco's recent attempt to present itself as a force for environmental good appears to be backfiring, as evidence emerges that Britain's biggest retailer has severely underestimated its true contribution to climate change.
Development charity Christian Aid says Tesco's carbon footprint does not include the emissions caused by shoppers driving to and from its stores or those incurred by its suppliers. Christian Aid believes that the true impact Tesco has on the environment could be as much as 12 times higher than the level the supermarket admits to. Campaigners from the charity will meet Tesco representatives tomorrow at its distribution centre in Chepstow to urge the company to come clean on its carbon footprint which stands, even by its own estimate, at 4.13m tonnes of CO2 equivalent - bigger than Mauritius.
Dr Sharon McClenaghan, Christian Aid's senior policy officer, said: 'Tesco has made some promises that it now needs to live up to. Currently, even the company's own green auditors have said that there is still a long way to go. We are seeking assurances that the company will stick by its promises, but also ensure that it does not do so simply by axing overseas suppliers, where what's needed is help and support from rich world companies to help them to go green too.'

Tesco 'limited competition' claim

Regulators accused supermarket giant Tesco of limiting competition and choice following its acquisition of a former Co-op store.
The Competition Commission has provisionally ruled that the purchase of the store in Slough, Berks, in 2003, by the UK's largest supermarket group, has resulted in a "substantial" lessening of competition in the area. The Office of Fair Trading referred Tesco to the Competition Commission in April after it failed to find a buyer for the site it had been told to sell in 2004.
Tesco purchased the former Co-op store, just 800 metres from its existing shop in the town, to trade from as it developed its original site. It was then due to sell the grocery shop after it moved back to its original store. However, the group has been developing the site into four smaller units and the Competition Commission has raised concerns that the new development will not be sufficient to attract a sizeable enough competitor. It ordered Tesco to stop working on the development last month. Inquiry group chairman and Competition Commission chairman Peter Freeman said: "Tesco's own internal assessment and the evidence of both stores' performance shows that, under another owner, the Co-op store was the main potential competition to its existing store. We will now look to discuss what action we can take with regard to the Co-op site and restoring competition."

Tesco said it had been working to sell the Co-op site, but had failed to find a buyer that met competition approval. "We identified a number of potential buyers over the years - including our main rivals - but most were prevented from buying by the OFT on competition grounds," it said. "We want to continue with the redevelopment of the (Co-op) site in order to make shopping even better for local people and we will work with the Commission to do so in a way that they find acceptable and that will achieve our shared goal of selling the site as quickly as possible."

The Competition Commission is currently investigating Tesco along with the other major supermarket retailers, as part of a probe into the wider grocery industry. The regulator is looking at supermarkets' dominance on a local scale. This is the second time this week that Tesco has been named by regulators, after the OFT accused a number of supermarkets and dairy producers of colluding to fix the price of milk, butter and cheese during 2002 and 2003.

Tesco has vowed to "vigorously defend" itself against the allegations.


Westcountry farmers' leaders and MPs are demanding stricter food labelling laws after a supermarket trumpeted one meal as "British" - only to reveal in small print that it was made from New Zealand lamb. Hilary Datchens, 57, said she felt "tricked" when she discovered that the "British" slow cooked lamb shanks she bought from Tesco at Padstow, North Cornwall, were actually from the other side of the world. "I bought them, took them home and we sat down and ate them," Miss Datchens said. "It wasn't until I was going to throw the packaging away that I noticed it said New Zealand lamb. I try to buy as much local produce as I can and I wouldn't have bought it if I'd known it was from New Zealand. I just feel that they'll try any trick they can." Part of the Tesco "Finest" range, the packaging clearly labels the meal as "British" in capital letters over a picture of a rural landscape. In much smaller type it says they are "tender shanks of marinated New Zealand lamb". The side of the sleeve, as seen when stacked on the shelf, merely states: "Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks" with "British" underneath. St Ives MP Andrew George said: "A lot of shoppers have become heartily cynical about the way in which supermarkets behave. This is just further evidence that supermarkets are happy to dupe customers. If the supermarkets really want to address peoples' genuine concerns about their activities there must be substance behind the claims they make about supporting British agriculture." South West Conservative MEP Neil Parish promised to raise the issue with Tesco, the European Commission and the Government saying it was an issue which had "gone on for far too long. A product should not be described as British when it is really from New Zealand," Mr Parish said. "It seems that there has been some processing of this meal in the UK, but I still think they have gone further than they are able." Ironically, the complaint about Tesco surfaced as the Food Standards Agency started a consultation exercise on new guidance for food businesses on "Country of Origin" labelling - a particular issue with ready meals. It includes advice on "avoiding misleading labelling with regard to products that are of a particular culinary style". Melanie Hall, South West regional director at the NFU, said a change in the law was needed to stop "confusing" shoppers who clearly wanted to "buy British". "I think it is time that legislation was in place to support the home supply base and stop confusing consumers when they are looking for that produce," she said. "We need to see far clearer labelling. The Red Tractor logo gives consumers the assurance that produce is British."
A spokeswoman for Tesco said the "British" description was designed to highlight the "type of cuisine" rather than indicate that "every single ingredient came from the country on the dish". She added: "We would never intend to mislead and the process has already been put in place to change the labelling on this product. People should see that in store in the next couple of weeks." She stressed that Tesco was "committed to clear labelling" and only sourced lamb outside the UK when local meat was not available.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tesco Juggernaut rolls on

The grocery giant already owns vast swathes of the country. Now Tesco is under fire for driving a bulldozer through the planning system. From Bury St Edmunds to Liverpool, it is angering councillors, local residents and its rivals.
Only this week, furious officials from picturesque Bury decided to make a stand against Tesco and reject its appeal over a superstore extension it had already erected without permission.
Earlier this month, the Competition Commission ordered Britain's biggest retailer to halt a controversial development in Slough. Tesco had bought a store from the Co-op, tried and failed to get permission for a megastore, then demolished it in order to protect its own position. One top property agent says: 'Tesco is the most aggressive organisation in Britain when it comes to the use of space and planning.'
The supermarket chain's rivals, which are jealous of its rapid expansion, accuse it of misleading councils to get permission for new supermarkets and paying over the odds to secure sites. In March the Co-operative Group objected to an application for a new Tesco in Yiewsley, West London, which was later rejected. The Co-op says Tesco's claims that the store would not hurt local shops could not be backed up. Co- op property director David Pringle said: 'There were serious flaws in Tesco's application, in terms of justifying the retail need and the way the impact on local stores had been calculated.'
A property executive at a rival chain says Tesco is using its muscle to push back the boundaries of planning laws. It now accounts for £1 in every £7 spent at retailers. The supermarket chain already controls 32pc of the grocery market and Sainsbury reckons Tesco owns 55% of the land that could be turned into stores. As well as being accused of sitting on a landbank to stymie its rivals, Tesco's aggressive tactics with local councils are seen by some as bullying.
However, sympathisers point out that because of its sheer size, Tesco is bound to have more run-ins over planning than its rivals. As the Tesco juggernaut hurtles on, its power over the local communities grows ever greater. It doesn't just build supermarkets, it considers altering the face of entire towns to suit its own needs.
In Kirkby, near Liverpool, Tesco plans to build a new football stadium for Everton FC, the team Liverpudlian boss Sir Terry Leahy supports. The Kirkby Residents Action Group claims 74% of residents do not want Everton FC in their area, fearing an escalation in crime, fighting and traffic. Tesco argues it is merely 'regenerating' as encouraged by the government. Property developers are required to 'give something back' to local communities in return for permission to build. Tesco is funding the stadium so it can erect a superstore next door. But Kirkby wants neither.
On Tesco's behalf, property developers Goodmans are seeking planning permission for an 850,000 square foot distribution centre on the outskirts of the tiny Hampshire town of Andover. It will be bigger than Heathrow's Terminal 5. Tesco says discussions over the site are at an early stage. But locals fear it could mean 6,000 massive HGVs zooming around Andover, which has just 35,000 residents and no motorway. More than 95% of residents are against it, according to a poll conducted by local Conservative MP Sir George Young. Pete Jopling, vice chairman of local Clatford Borough Council, says: 'Andover needs jobs but we want a business park to attract a mix of people.' Instead, Jopling claims, the Tesco site could lead to a massive influx of low-paid pickers, packers and lorry drivers. Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy is trying to win public support by talking up the grocer's green credentials and trying to highlight its focus on locally produced food.
He has taken control of gardening chain Dobbies, apparently to encourage us to buy solar panels and wind turbines. But it will need a lot more than a few eco-friendly measures to win over the locals.

Manningtree to fight Tesco superstore plan

Residents of England's smallest town are preparing to fight an application by Tesco, Britain's largest retailer, to build a superstore they say will destroy the town's distinctive character and put local shops out of business. The David and Goliath contest over the town of Manningtree in Essex is expected to begin in earnest when a planning application is lodged this autumn. It has already stirred up a hornet's next of opposition in the area.
Campaigners nationally say the planning application for such a large food store in such a small community will be a further striking case of the negative impacts of supermarket power. The proposal comes at a critical time when the Government is finalising details of a new test set out in its planning White Paper that will replace the "need" test for retail developments which was supposed to protect the character of market towns. There have been widespread fears that Tesco's dominance of the market is creating 'ghost towns' because small High Street shops are being forced out of business. The Competition Commission is looking at the effect of the big retailers on local competition in its latest inquiry which was extended recently after emails were discovered from Asda and Tesco allegedly instructing suppliers to lower their prices. A survey of 50 senior directors of supermarket suppliers published last week found that three quarters do not believe their firms are protected by Office of Fair Trading rules. More than half said they feared making complaints against supermarkets because they might lose their contracts.
Manningtree, historically a port, lies between the far larger towns of Colchester and Ipswich on the River Stour and its railway station serves a wide rural hinterland and is the gateway to Constable Country. The town, which claims to be England's smallest by area, has a delicatessen, a farm shop, a whole food shop, two bakeries and a twice-weekly market with butcher, fishmonger and greengrocers and, currently, a small Tesco Express. Tesco is now proposing to build a 30,000 square foot store on the edge of the town, right next door to the farm shop, opposite a newsagent and adjacent to the existing Five Ways Co-Op supermarket, the only large food store in the town, which has lodged an application to expand. Residents point out that there are already 10 Tesco stores within 10 miles of Manningtree already and the roads to them are better than the narrow roads of the Dedham Vale. The proposed new store is not on the local plan. An estimated 200 people packed the scout hall in Lawford, the neighbouring village to express opposition to Tesco's proposals when they held a consultation last month. Jenny Hawley, chairman of Stour Community First, a group set up to oppose the planning application when it comes, said: "What Tesco is proposing is totally out of proportion with the need and character of a small, historic town. We are not prepared to sit back and watch Tesco take over Manningtree. Its shops and restaurants and the smallholders and farm shops of the surrounding area would be unable to cope with it. It would totally change the character of the area." Nicky Young, a working mother with children who moved into the town eight years ago, said: "I'm very passionate about Manningtree as I moved there from Colchester because of the community spirit, the shops and the school. We will lose all that if there is a big Tesco here. It would attract people from a wide radius and it would change the things that make Manningtree special, that sense that you can send your children out to the local shop and it is safe. If I had wanted a Tesco I'd have stayed in Colchester."
Lee Lay-Flurrie, the mayor, said: "There is no doubt I am against it in principle on a personal basis but as the council we do need to wait until we see the application."
Lady Cranbrook, who successfully campaigned to stop a superstore in her local town of Saxmundham in Suffolk and who is a member of the Tory Quality of Life policy group, said: "Small shops provide elderly people with their only contact with humanity. On a profound level, we have been destroying the means of having society banks and post offices, pubs. Tesco provides a big car park and the pattern of car parking changes. People don't want to walk to the high street. There is only so much retailing available. The large retailers mop up what there is. But small shops are the seedbed for new businesses."
Henry Oliver of the New Economics Foundation, which has campaigned against the excessive power of supermarkets, said that much would depend on the Government's planning guidance following the consultation on the White Paper, which has just closed. Kate Barker, the Treasury's planning adviser, recommended the removal of the "need test" for retailing but the present proposal is that an "impact test" should be retained.
A Tesco spokesman said: "It is not true to say that everyone is opposed to our proposed food store in Manningtree. We have just conducted an extensive public consultation over four days. 600 people came to the exhibition. A large number said they want something that better meets their food shopping needs. At the moment eight out of 10 people say they are driving to large food stores in nearby towns. That does not fit with protecting the town centre. This proposal is at present in draft. That is why there has been such an extensive public consultation. We will continue to work with the council to define the town's shopping needs."

Tesco faces demolishing supermarket extension

Councillors in Bury St Edmunds have refused to grant Tesco retrospective approval for a store extension which was built without planning permission. The council could now force the leading supermarket chain to demolish the extension. The embarrassing case is just the latest example of Tesco being forced to seek retrospective planning permission. Tesco has been forced to seek retrospective permission for wind turbines on stores. Last year the supermarket chain was forced to seek backdated approval after it was discovered that its new store in Stockport was 20pc larger than planned and more recently the retailer has also been forced to seek retrospective permission for wind turbines on stores.
The decision by councillors at Edmundsbury Borough Council - against the advice of the council's own planning officers - has set the set the council up for a David and Goliath battle with the UK's largest supermarket chain. Council sources expect Tesco to appeal against the decision. However a spokesman for Tesco said they hoped to work with the council to resolve the impasse. "The intention was never to go ahead and do this without permission. We consulted with council officers throughout. We will now work with the council to come up with a solution," said the spokesman.
Councillors overruled their own officials and refused to grant retrospective planning permission after hearing from the supermarket's neighbours. Objectors said the building was too big and had inappropriate white cladding instead of the red brick found across the back of the main superstore.
Mayor Margaret Charlesworth, who voted against the Tesco extension, said: "It wasn't in keeping with its surroundings in either scale or material. It is as ugly as you can imagine and it doesn't fit in with anything. Tesco should have been more sensitive - people's gardens should be their own private spaces."
Trevor Beckwith, a member of the planning and development control committee, told the East Anglian Daily Times: "It was dominating the backs of people's gardens. It was blocking the light at certain times of the day. People should be able to enjoy their gardens when they want and not when Tesco wants them to.
"The building itself is also pretty ugly and I don't see why people should have to look at that," he said.

The age of Tesco edges closer

Hailsham is beginning to feel the impact of the controversial new Tesco development - which continues to divide opinion in the town.
Demolition work on the North Street site has finally got underway, 14 years after it was first earmarked for retail use and more than six months after Tesco won its long-running battle for planning permission. Two derelict buildings next to the Grenadier pub, on the corner of North Street and the High Street, are being pulled down and the cleared land will eventually form part of the new superstore. Across town in Marshfoot Lane, the new White House primary school is starting to take shape. Tesco has paid for the school to relocate from North Street so it can bulldoze the school's current buildings and incorporate that into the development. But while youngsters will eventually get shiny new classrooms and shoppers a consumer heaven that will take the number of Tesco-brand stores nationwide to nearly 2,000, not everyone is happy. Last Wednesday vandals targeted the fence near the current White House school and painted the slogan 'affordable housing would be better than Tesco'. Just 48 hours after it was cleaned up, more anti-Tesco graffiti sprang up on the same fence. White House School headteacher Heather Baldwin said, "I think it's sad that people have to resort to that." The work has started. The only people it's affecting now are the children and the staff at the school, not the big boys."As futile as graffiti may be, it is a sign of the strength of feeling among those in Hailsham who are worried at the effect the retail giant - the fourth largest on the planet - will have on the town centre. Mayor Nick Ellwood said he was particularly concerned about the plan to convert North Street into a two-way road. He said, "We have been opposed to it because we feel the whole gyratory should be reversed."The way they've designed it is so that all the traffic feeds into Tesco, doubtless its intention."I believe 'Planet Tesco', as I call it, wants to take over the world." We have restricted them in what they can sell but studies show that when Tesco comes into towns the size of Hailsham there is a 26 per cent closure of high street shops as a result." Robin Sadler, one of the landlords at the Grenadier, said it was 'about time' the derelict buildings adjacent to his pub were knocked down. He said, "I just hope that Tesco can be sympathetic to all the other shops in the town."But the owner of one such town centre shop said changes to the flow of traffic through the town could hit some local businesses hard. She said, "There is a lot of negativity around about it. Making North Street two-way is going to cause havoc with town centre traffic and that will affect the High Street." But all the time the debate rumbles on, so construction work gathers pace. Constructor Kier expects the new White House school to be completed by Easter 2008 - paving the way for the old site to be swallowed up and become Tesco superstore number 434.