Norfolk retailer Nigel Dowdney has taken the battle for the high street right to the heart of the enemy by joining other protestors at Tesco's Annual General Meeting (AGM). Nigel believes that the arrival of a Tesco store in Stalham, Norfolk has reduced choice for local people and "turned a thriving market town into a Tesco town". He said that footfall in the town's high street was reduced by more than 55% after the Tesco store opened. As the owner of one Tesco share, Nigel was entitled to attend the AGM in Central London, but despite several attempts to ask a question he was not called upon to speak because, he says, he was recognised from previous protests.
Another shareholder brought up the case of Sheringham in Norfolk where Tesco plans to build a store despite strong local opposition, but Nigel says her protests were not addressed. "The whole event was run with pure arrogance," he told Convenience Store
. "I'm glad I went because it has strengthened by resolve to carry on fighting. Next year I'll make sure I go in disguise."
Representatives of Friends of the Earth also attended the AGM and used the occasion to reveal the results of a survey which claims that nearly half of local residents would oppose a new Tesco in their area. The GSK NOP survey revealed that 43% of people in the UK would oppose a new Tesco store and only 33% would welcome one.
In Cuffley, Hertfordshire, home village of Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy, the chain has said it will continue with its plans to build an Express store despite local residents voting against the move in a referendum.
Jacqui Mackay, spokesperson for the anti-Tesco campaign Tescopoly said: "We are seeing more active campaigns against Tesco. Communities are simply not prepared to sit back and let Tesco take over their towns."