Save our Sheringham - Say NO to Tesco

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tesco get everywhere

I received an email from Tony that said -

"I have just been to the NNDC website and entered the word 'Tesco' into the Council's search engine, also clicking the button marked 'All Norfolk Council sites'. The result is quite surprising, the first link to come up on the list is the direct conection to Tesco's groceries home delivery site! It seems odd to me that the Council would allow such a commercial link from their own website."

I found this quite intriguing so followed it up with Norfolk County Council, here's their reply -

"Many thanks for your interesting email. We whole-heartedly agree with you that the Tesco homepage should not appear as the first option under All Norfolk sites. We have asked our website team to investigate and remove this anomaly. I do appreciate you bringing this matter to our attention, and will further update you once I have confirmation that it has been addressed. Kind regards"

I don't suppose we'll ever find out who was responsible but it just shows how much effort Tesco go to to get noticed!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tesco to challenge LDF next week

Tesco will be at the Inquiry into the North Norfolk Local Development Framework(LDF) next week. They are attempting to get the clasification of Sheringham and Stalham changed so that they are no longer classified as secondary towns for development. In particular they want the document to state that - “1,500 sqm of net sales convenience goods floorspace will be accommodated on an appropriate site within the town”.
If this happens then Tesco will be strengthened in any future appeal over the current refusal for their store. We must hope that the Council defend the LDF with the same fortitude shown by the councillors last week.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Sheringham on BBC Radio4

Why not listen to a Sheringham campaigner on BBC Radio 4's You and Yours program commenting on the Councils refusal of the Tesco application.

Enough is enough as town defies Tesco invasion

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) hailed a unanimous decision today (Thursday) by a local council to turn down a supermarket application at Sheringham in Norfolk. “The decision by North Norfolk District Council sends a clear message of hope for local communities up and down the country that the supermarket onslaught can be successfully resisted’, said Tom Oliver, Head of Rural Policy at CPRE. CPRE calls on the Government to take heed of the decision and reject a mistaken quest to liberalise the planning system in the spurious name of consumer choice. Tesco should also reconsider their on-going appeal in the light of this clearest of verdicts. You would have to set your mind against the democratic process not to understand the significance of this decision. Those in Government who urge an easing of planning rules for supermarkets should think again and listen to the will of the people expressed today in Norfolk’, Tom Oliver continued. Almost all the evidence suggests that overprovision of out-of-scale supermarkets in market towns damages their local economies, reduces real choice and diminishes their distinctive character. CPRE has long campaigned to strengthen existing planning controls on supermarket expansion and the Sheringham decision vindicates this position.
‘This is wonderful news. There was an informed and thoughtful discussion by councillors which was heartening to all who have faith in the benefits of local democracy. The council are not going to roll over to a powerful organisation when they believe they have a right and just case’ said local CPRE’s local campaigner, Ian Shepherd.
‘We congratulate the local council on their courageous decision and have every confidence they will plan and deliver the right retail facilities for the town’s long term benefit’, Tom Oliver concluded.

Sheringham 17 - 0 Tesco

It may have looked like any other day in the busy shopping streets of Sheringham yesterday.But the spring in the step of long-established traders, and chink of wine glasses from smiling campaigners, were clues that it was not.Opponents of a long-running bid by Tesco to build a store in the town were cock-a-hoop after the scheme was turned down by an overwhelming 17-0 vote by councillors, which earned that rare accolade for elected members - a standing ovation from a cheering public gallery. But celebrations will be short-lived, as the retail giant is already taking the matter to appeal, meaning a fresh battle looms in the New Year.However campaigners feel their latest victory will strengthen their case for the next chapter of a saga stretching back more than a decade.After a two-hour debate by North Norfolk District Council's joint planning committee, Eroica Mildmay from the Sheringham Campaign Against Major Retail Overdevelopment, said the outcome was an “absolutely fantastic victory for common sense over corporate bullying”.And chamber of trade chairman Janet Farrow was “elated and ready to fight on” after local councillors listened to local people.The committee refused the 1,500sq m store on the Cromer Road saying it was too big, at twice the size recommended in an emerging new planning blueprint for the town.There were fears it would harm the existing town centre traders, and cause traffic problems on the busy coast road.Councillors also said its design on a prominent gateway to the town was also incompatible with the surroundings, including Sheringham's only listed building, the Catholic Church opposite.The scheme involves a store, 188 parking spaces, and pedestrian walkway through to the town centre. A package of linked plans will see the community centre and fire station on the site rebuild elsewhere.Tesco, and a pro lobby group, said it would help the town by stopping people heading to neighbouring stores for their weekly shop, and providing spin-off trade for the town. But it has met with fierce opposition over its potential impact on the town centre.Planning officer Andy Mitchell said there was a “divergence of opinion” shown in a new survey by the pro-Tesco lobby this month which said 53pc of people were in favour and 47pc against.Officers recommended approval, and warned that if councillors refused it, costs could be awarded the authority at appeal if it could not produce evidence to back up the reasons.Among members of the public to address the committee was Dr Ian Shepherd, from the county branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, who said any decision should not be based on appeal costs, but on local knowledge. Vibrant towns tended to be “supermarket light” and independent shops, which were the heartbeat of the community, were an endangered species.Twenty-year-old Laura Thomas said people her age were the future of Sheringham, which should be “untouched by the dull clone town effect” which could result from “another greedy victory” for Tesco.Co-franchisee of the local Budgens supermarket Paul Burnell pleaded with councillors not to bow down to the “fat wallets, landbanking and bullying tactics” of Tesco.But Tesco supporter Paul Norman said a lot of local people felt bullied by the “strident” anti lobby which was determined to reject change even if it benefitted many people.Protesc campaign leader Pam Blyth said a majority of local people were in favour of the plan, while Tesco agent Malcolm Alsop said the proposed store, 60pc the size of the Cromer Morrison's, could provide the same kind of regeneration as a new Tesco had at Fakenham.Sheringham's councillors were all against the plan, with Hilary Nelson saying that a large store might suit a major inland town like Fakenham, but was unsuitable for a smaller seaside resort, where it threat had been a “sword of Damacles” blighting town investment for more than a decade.Penny Bevan Jones threw down the gauntlet for Tesco to “redeem its tainted reputation” by working with the local community to come up with a smaller eco-friendly store made of straw.The move to refuse the store came from Henry Cordeaux, who said it was too big, and a poor design with “acres of glass and some flint”.Afterwards Tesco corporate affairs manager Michael Kissman said it was a “sad day for the majority of residents of Sheringham” who wanted the store. But that the company would continue to press for their plan at appeal.Budgens' Mr Burnell also said the company, which has permission for a smaller store on part of the main town car park, would seek to work with the council and community to reignite its proposals.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Campaign behind great towns, not ghost towns

Momentum has been growing in favour of the EDP's Shop Here campaign since its launch earlier this year to encourage readers to seek out locally-sourced and produced goods when heading to the shops. The idea is a simple one - use your local shop, buy goods which are locally produced and sourced - or lose it.
But it is not simply about keeping the character and prosperity of our local communities, there are environmental and ethical spin offs to shopping locally as well. This week will also see councillors in North Norfolk meet to decide whether to give the green light to a controversial scheme for a new Tesco in Sheringham. At stake opponents believe is the vibrancy of a community blessed with independent traders. And should councillors throw out the plans, the issue is sure to become a cause celebre across the country. The battle is finely balanced, which is why many are now taking a stand.

More than 800 local shops and traders have signed up and support is now reaching the corridors of power. Tory leader David Cameron has already spoken of his support for the initiative on a visit to Diss, hailing it as a perfect example of how communities can work together to help each other. And North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb is to table a Commons early day motion to gain the backing of all MPs. While the government is also keen to recognise the benefits of promoting local trade as it seeks to create sustainable communities.
Housing minister, Yvette Cooper said: “It is great to see that EDP is supporting small local shops. Town centres are the bustling hearts of every community and the government's policies will continue to be about creating great towns, not ghost towns. The government's town centres first policy means planning rules have to prioritise town centres over out-of-town shopping and block developments that threaten the survival of high streets and small shops. It is right that the planning system supports prosperous high streets, where small shops can succeed and there is choice for local people.”
Mr Lamb's motion to Parliament states: “This house supports the EDP Shop Here campaign; recognises the aim of retaining local shops and post offices, particularly in rural areas; recognises the importance of local businesses in terms of sustainability, the vitality of the local economy and retaining diversity; recognises the very real threat to local shops due to the power of supermarkets and other multiple stores; applauds the passing of the Sustainable Communities Bill, with all-party support; and calls on the government to ensure that policy development supports the objectives of this campaign.”

Last night the MP said it was vital to stand up for local businesses.
“All of us, particularly in rural constituencies, see the real threats to local shops,” he said. “The great danger is that communities will lose their diversity and vibrancy. That's why I'm pleased to support the EDP's campaign.”

EDP deputy editor Pete Waters welcomed the all-party support for the newspaper's campaign. “Many of our local independent shops are suffering from the predatory behaviour of large national companies and politicians should take this into consideration when thinking about planning laws and the kind of environment and communities we want to live in. There needs to be some protection for local traders so that we not only keep a thriving local economy but also retain our own unique local identity. We don't want our market towns to become clone towns, we don't want charmless homogenised high streets and we don't want the local traders in our city to be muscled out by the big boys. There is every indication that local independent shops not only improve the character of an area, and help attract visitors, but also put more back into that local community, helping it to thrive and prosper.”

Speaking about today's free Shop Local magazine, Mr Waters added: “This is an indication of the strength of feeling felt by local traders. Many of the area's largest independent retailers are backing this initiative, and together we're asking our readers to think about using local shops to do their Christmas shopping and to support our local communities.”

The campaign has previously received the support of Tory leader David Cameron. Writing in the special EDP Shop Local supplement, Tory leader David Cameron again sets out his vision for vibrant local communities. “If we care about our communities, and the local, independent retailers that give them their character, then it is our responsibility to support them - not just by signing petitions and joining campaigns, but with our cash,” he writes.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tesco plans rejected - for now!

Well done to the Councillors who, on Friday, decided that the application for the proposed Tesco store in Sheringham should be refused. Unfortunately, the Head of Planning Control, an unelected officer, decided that the application needed to go forward to the Full Planning Commitee for a final decision on November 22nd. It is hoped that councillors from outside the Sheringham area will abide by the decision of all four local councillors and agree that the application be dismissed.
Why the unelected officers should continue to promote the Tesco case is a mystery. It must be hoped that there is nothing untoward happening here.