Student media coverage: Post strike delays Tesco

The article below was published by Varsity, one of the two student newspapers at the University of Cambridge.

Postal strike buys time for Mill Road protesters as deadline is extended

Campaigners against the proposed construction of a Tesco supermarket on Mill Road have received unexpected help from the postal strike this week. Cambridge City Council announced that the deadline for voicing objections against the build will be extended by one week to allow for sluggish rates of delivery.

Last Friday, a petition of over 2,250 signatures was delivered to the Council’s Planning Department by members of the No Mill Road Tesco Campaign and their sister Facebook group, Let’s Turn Mill Road into Chains Free Zone.

Many cash strapped students are welcoming proposals to open a branch of Tesco’s in the city centre, but protestors claim that the new store would threaten the independent food stores for which the area is famous. “Mill Road is totally unique in Cambridge in the range of locally run food shops, and has most of the speciality shops in Cambridge such as those for Chinese, Korean, Indian and Arabian foods. Tesco invades all these markets with its own organic and specialty brands,” says Mike Riste, an Emma student who lives near Mill Road. “It seems totally unnecessary to have another supermarket in the locality.”

Kevin Tarbit of Mill Road’s Andrew Northrop Butchers told Varsity that “the community spirit will be lost if this goes ahead, and I think it will as Tesco are such a force to be reckoned with. Tesco are greedy, unfair competition and have too much of a monopoly.”

Some local shopkeepers still appear to be unconcerned by the plans. Philippa Dennis, who owns the Limoncello delicatessen directly opposite the proposed Tesco site, says, “I don’t really see Tesco as a huge problem. We get a lot of business here so we’re not worried.”

The future of the proposed Mill Road Tesco will be determined when the council’s Planning Committee meets on November 1. Jim Jepps, a campaigner for the No Mill Road Tesco group, is optimistic about the protestors’ chances of preventing the new store being built. “Our impression is that Tesco are getting worried,” he told Varsity. “They may well not go ahead as they are getting so much bad press out of it. The point is you can go to a Tesco anywhere, but there’s only one Mill Road.”

Varsity, 19th October 2007 

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