Save our Sheringham - Say NO to Tesco

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

David beats Goliath in Tesco battle

In a master of understatement, you could say it was a victory which has not come easily.How does David take on Goliath and win?Well, the first thing that David - in this case, a concoction of council and campaigner - has to do is accept he is in for a long haul.As well as elation, there was palpable shock both in Sheringham and within national campaigning groups yesterday as they digested the news that Tesco had been cut down at the hands of a government planning inspector.That shock was clear evidence of the relief that 13 years of campaigning had finally paid off and surprise that the apparently unbeatable giant that is Tesco had, indeed, been beaten.Although there are no guarantees the war is over, the fact a government inspector has made such a clear and strongly-worded ruling puts the campaigners in the best position they have ever been in. The next stage of the process would be a Court of Appeal action - and last night it was unclear whether this was a route, and a new set of headlines, Tesco would want to pursue. It is a decision which will need careful thought at the highest level of Tesco's executive. The implications would be manifold.There are three parties who put in the most work to achieve yesterday's victory. The Sheringham Chamber of Trade, the Sheringham Campaign Against Mass Retail Overdevelopment (Scamrod) and North Norfolk District Council.There will be differing versions of who worked hardest, with Pro-Tesc campaigner Pam Blyth aiming her congratulations firmly at the chamber of trade, leading small-store campaigner Nigel Dowdney saying the council needed to be “patted on the back” and the council itself congratulating everyone involved, while council leader Virginia Gay added that for some fellow members: “It will cast a particularly glowing light on their time as a councillor.”With the inspector's words about how the planned Tesco could lead to “far-reaching decline” in Sheringham ringing in her ears, Eroica Mildmay, from Scamrod, was anything but understated.“This makes 13 years of my life worthwhile,” she said.“It was hard work but the work was put in and we managed to get it.“It took us four months working four hours a day to make our submission to the appeal.“We had to go though all the legislation and get everything we could throw at them. We did all that work with the faith that this was wrong.”Janet Farrow, chairman of Sheringham Chamber of Trade, said: “I am absolutely thrilled that all the work we have done over the last few years has made a difference.“We just now have to wait and see what Tesco will do and hope we can go forward and find something suitable for Sheringham.“We have never been anti-Tesco, we were always just anti this planning application.“If they want to come back with a store that is sensible for Sheringham, then we will work with them.”And Sheringham councillor Hilary Nelson, amid cheers, applause and the banging of tables from fellow councillors, said: “I'm so excited I could almost burst into tears.“It is brilliant news and just think what it is going to do for tourism and Sheringham's reputation.”The three-week inspector's hearing held at the council's head office in Cromer back in July may have been undeniably dry other than one evening meeting in Sheringham itself, but the reaction yesterday and in the coming days will not be.There are still those who want to see a new supermarket in Sheringham and the likelihood of that happening has not disappeared with the planning inspector's report. But what looks likely now is if there is to be a successful new planning application, it will have to be for a far smaller store.Either that or a visit to the Court of Appeal will come to the fore - and the long, sorry and expensive saga that has already been played out for more than a decade will continue.