Archive for the ‘Media coverage’ Category.

David Howarth MP asks Tesco chief why they plan to break the law

David Howarth, Cambridge’s MP, has copied us in on a letter he has sent to Sir Terry Leahy, CEO of Tesco.

Mr Howarth, who incidentally is also a lawyer, writes:

Dear Sir Terry

I was surprised and disturbed to read that Tesco plc is planning to ignore planning conditions that prevent deliveries to the front of the proposed new store in Mill Road, Cambridge. (See attached news story).

Is it really Tesco policy to ignore those planning conditions or laws it does not like? Is Tesco expecting the local authority to turn a blind eye to this proposed law-breaking?

If it is, I wonder whether Tesco would turn a blind eye if some of its customers decided that they did not wish to obey the law on shoplifting.

I hope you can reassure me on this matter.

Yours sincerely

David Howarth
Member of Parliament for Cambridge

CEN article: Clash looms over Tesco deliveries

Home - Tesco Mill Road TESCO has vowed to make onstreet deliveries to its store in Cambridge’s Mill Road – despite warnings they could pose a danger to the public.

The supermarket has been warned by the Highways Authority, the Planning Inspectorate and Cambridge City Council not to deliver to the front of the store.

And ‘No Mill Road Tesco’ campaigners claim the company will be breaking the law and could face fines of up to £1,000 a day if it goes ahead with the plan.

But Tesco confirmed the company would make deliveries in the street, which is famed for its independent shops.

The News exclusively revealed that the Express store will open on Wednesday, August 26.

The plans were met with huge opposition when they were unveiled, including a 5,000-signature petition, street demonstrations and squatters who briefly turned the former Wilco shop into a social centre before they were evicted.

A No Mill Road Tesco campaign spokeswoman said: “Unlike other stores on Mill Road, this specific site has a planning condition preventing on-street delivery, as Tesco know.

“When the councillors refused Tesco planning permission in March and July last year, one of the reasons that they did so was because of the danger that Tesco’s 35 deliveries a week would pose to road safety.

“The government-appointed planning inspector dismissed Tesco’s appeal last November for exactly the same reason, that ‘the Mill Road delivery option would pose unacceptable risks to highway safety’.

“Both the planning inspector and the county council also said Tesco’s delivery cages would be dangerous to pedestrians and cyclists on Mill Road, because Tesco make so many deliveries every day.

“We are very interested to see that Tesco consider public safety, planning law, and the views of councillors and the Planning Inspectorate to be irrelevant to their business decisions. This is a matter we are pursuing through the appropriate channels.”

City council planning officer Peter Carter said: “There is a previous planning condition that deliveries cannot be made to the front of the shop.

If Tesco do deliver to the store at the front it may be a threat to safety and the council may have to enforce any alleged breach of planning conditions.”

A Tesco spokeswoman said: “We will deliver to the front of the store as the previous occupants did and as do most retailers on Mill Road.”

A spokesman for the county council, the highways authority, said: “There is an old planning condition that still stands that they cannot deliver out front, and on top of that there is no waiting and no deliveries allowed at peak times.”

Published in the Cambridge News, 24th July 2009

CEN issues apology for slur on the Campaign

The CEN has now published an apology following the slur on the Campaign yesterday (see previous news item), at the end of the original story.

“FURTHER to a picture caption published for a short period of time yesterday (Tuesday, March 24), we would like to make clear that the No Mill Road Tesco campaign was in no way involved in the attack on a pro-Tesco campaigner.

As outlined in the story, members of the group condemned the actions of the man responsible. We apologise for any confusion caused.

For more details about the campaign go to”

Events on Saturday reported in the CEN

On Saturday, we ran a successful and enjoyable, happy occasion, celebrating 500 days without Tesco on Mill Road. People from around the community came to enjoy entertainment, local produce and the sunshine.

However, the Cambridge Evening News has today reported on an unconnected event nearby. A senior editor has contacted us to state that they will print a formal retraction of parts of this story:

“As I said before on the telephone, we will print a clarification tomorrow which makes clear that, further to the picture caption printed on page 2 today, No Mill Road Tesco campaign was in no way involved in the attack and members condemned the man’s actions. It also apologises for any confusion caused.

Hope this is ok, apologies once again for any problems this has caused.

Best wishes,
John Deex, Deputy editor”

We also issued the following statement to Councillors yesterday:

“As you may be aware, there have been reports that two individuals were subjected to verbal and physical abuse on Saturday, while attempting to collect signatures for a pro-Tesco petition.

As we hope you understand, these incidents are in no way connected with the No Mill Road Tesco Campaign, and we would take very seriously any suggestion that they were. In the event that any such allegation is brought to our attention, we will request either concrete evidence for the claim, or a full and public retraction of it; if neither is forthcoming, it would be our intention to seek legal redress.

The No Mill Road Tesco Campaign condemns such behaviour unreservedly and would strongly urge those affected to contact the police, if they have not already done so.

We always have been, and remain, confident of our arguments – arguments that have been supported by Council and Planning Inspectorate decisions. We regard abuse and threats as the resort of those with no arguments on their side, or those who are incapable of making arguments.”

CEN article: “Anti-Tesco group celebrates milestone”

[Obviously we disagree with the suggestion made by an opponent in this article that NMRT is ‘killing business in the street’, a claim unsupported by any evidence; in fact new businesses have opened since the campaign against Tesco setting up on Mill Road began!

Note also that, as we explained to the CEN’s reporter at the time, the cheque for £3,352,000 represents what would have been the store’s turnover in this period, not its profit.]

A DAY of celebration was held by campaigners trying to stop Tesco from opening a shop in Cambridge’s Mill Road.

It is now 500 days since the store launched its bid to open a new branch in the former Wilco premises in the street, famous for its independent retailers.

To celebrate the delay, campaigners from the Say No to Mill Road Tesco group held a party outside the premises.

A giant cheque for more than £3 million was on show – the group’s estimate of what Tesco would have made at the store had it opened on time and the amount spent in existing shops instead.

The party took place as some traders hit back at the campaign for putting businesses and residents off from going to the street.

Joyce Charles, one of the petition organisers, who owns Rollers hair salon, said: “These protesters are killing business in the street and putting people off setting up shop here.”

The site has Class A1 retail planning permission and consent for signs and a cash machine. Despite not being allowed to build an external refrigeration unit, Tesco insists it plans to open a store, creating more than 20 jobs.

Cambridge Evening News, 23rd March 2009.

Cambridge Cycling Campaign interviewed on lorry issue

A spokesperson from Cambridge Cycling Campaign was interviewed on BBC Radio Cambs today on the issue of the lorry delivery proposals. They welcomed the decision.

We welcome their support, though we recognise of course that they have no view on the kinds of issues relating to independent traders that we have.

CEN article: Tesco appeals dismissed over Mill Road store

TWO appeals by supermarket giant Tesco for permission to build an extension as part of plans to open a store in Cambridge’s Mill Road have been dismissed.

The company had wanted to build a single-storey extension at the back of the former Wilco store and install plant equipment. 

The application was made along with proposals for a shop front, ATM and two signs. 

But while Cambridge City Council approved two of Tesco’s planning applications, it rejected the proposed extension and installation of refrigeration equipment. 

Tesco appealed against the refusal of planning permission. It also lodged an appeal on the grounds of non-determination. 

A four-day hearing was held at the beginning of October and now planning inspector David Nicholson has dismissed both appeals. 

He concluded the servicing options for the store would “pose unacceptable risks to highway safety”. Sonia Cooter, co-ordinator of the No Mill Road Tesco campaign, said: “We are very happy. 

“The planning inspector quite comprehensively ruled out any safe delivery options. It’s up to Tesco now to decide whether they want to go any further. 

“We are delighted that the planning inspector realised just how dangerous it would be to deliver to the site.” 

Martin Lucas-Smith, co-ordinator of Cambridge Cycling Campaign, who gave evidence at the public inquiry, said: “Cambridge Cycling Campaign is delighted to hear that Tesco’s ridiculous proposals for deliveries directly from Mill Road or by sending large lorries down the narrow streets of Romsey have been comprehensively and unequivocally thrown out by the Government inspector. 

“We objected to the plans and the Government inspector has accepted the evidence we put forward at the public inquiry that cyclists and indeed everyone else using Mill Road would be badly affected by Tesco’s delivery proposals. 

“We hope now that Tesco will stop wasting taxpayers’ money and everyone’s time, and withdraw their second appeal, in which exactly the same issues apply.”

A statement released by Tesco read: “We are obviously extremely disappointed by this decision. We will be considering the report and looking at our options. 

“However, we still remain committed to Mill Road and think that a Tesco Express will add to the vibrancy of the area. We now await the Inquiry date for air conditioning and refrigeration plant.”

Cambridge Evening News, 12/11/2008

CEN article: Anxious wait as Tesco appeal hearing closes

Home - The former Wilco site where Tesco wants to move in.

The former Wilco site where Tesco wants to move in.

OPPONENTS of Tesco’s plans for a branch in Mill Road, Cambridge, are anxiously waiting for a decision on a planning appeal which has closed after four days of evidence.

The appeal, heard at The Guildhall, finished yesterday following a site visit to the former Wilco store.

Now David Howarth, Cambridge’s MP, is calling for planning rules to be changed so councils can keep supermarkets out of areas dominated by independent shops.

He spoke out as Tesco waits to hear if its appeal to build an extension and install plant equipment at a shop in Mill Road, which will allow it to open an Express store, has been successful.

Mr Howarth sat in on day three of the appeal in front of inspector David Nicholson.

One of the issues Mr Nicholson quizzed the council’s witnesses on was whether its approach would have been different if the shop’s previous owners Wilco had made the application.

Despite widespread concern at the supermarket giant’s decision to move into Mill Road, a desire to maintain the street’s independent image is not a planning consideration and Mr Howarth believes it should be.

He is backing local councillors Nichola Harrison and Kilian Bourke’s efforts to have Mill Road designated an Independent Business Zone and would like to see the Retail Development Bill, which has been going through the House of Lords, to become law.

This would divide shops into three classes and allow councils to keep larger stores out of an area if they want to.

Mr Howarth told the News: “The law should be changed so that it’s clear local authorities have the power to shape their own areas.

“It should be possible for a council to choose to make a particular shopping street a zone for independent shops and businesses. If they want to promote national chains, big supermarkets, they can do that. If they want a mix they would be allowed to that.

“Very rarely is the identity of the person holding that permission relevant. One of the things this bill does is it has three different kinds of shops.

“What Cambridge City Council wants to be able to do is distinguish between independent businesses where the money is going to stay in the community more and national and international businesses.”

The city council rejected Tesco’s plans, saying they would pose a risk to public safety and did not provide sufficient parking spaces.

Tesco dispute this and say there is sufficient on-street car parking in the area and the store would benefit residents by meeting convenience shopping needs, increase footfall in the area and bring an empty shop back into use.

A decision is expected in November.

Cambridge Evening News, 4th October 2008

CEN article: Weight ban ‘of no use’

TESCO has told a planning inspector its Mill Road store will be useless if large lorries are banned from making deliveries.
One of the reasons Cambridge City Council rejected the supermarket’s application for a single-story extension and installation of plant equipment at the former Wilco site was that the only way of servicing the store using 10.3 metre-long rigid axle vehicles was via Mill Road, putting public safety at risk and holding up traffic.

Planning inspector David Nicholson asked Rupert Lyons, director of Pinnacle Transportation Limited, appearing for Tesco, whether the store could operate without those vehicles.

He said: “If, for example, I were to apply a condition to a permission that said no vehicles above the size of, say, a transit van, could deliver, would that permission be worth anything to you?”

Mr Lyons replied: “I don’t believe so, no sir.”

There are three options for deliveries: stopping on Mill Road; driving around a loop of Catharine Street and Sedgwick Street, or vehicles being allowed to access Sedgwick Street from Mill Road, which would require a change to traffic rules.

The inquiry heard Cambridgeshire County Council is unlikely to grant a traffic regulation order to allow access to the rear yard from Mill Road, although Tesco is willing to pay for the move if the highway authority changes its mind.

Asked how he would service the Tesco Express, Mr Lyons said the “pragmatic approach” would be for deliveries of newspapers, mail and milk to be made from Mill Road before 8.15am and the larger deliveries made to the back of the store.

In the afternoon, Tesco’s second witness Matthew Roe, director of planning at CgMs Ltd, gave evidence.

He said Tesco’s plans would provide “a valuable facility to local residents and workers by meeting convenience shopping needs”.

He said the proposed extension would have a “positive impact” on Mill Road and increase footfall as well as bringing a vacant unit back into use.

The planning appeal concludes today.

Cambridge Evening News, 3rd October 2008

CEN article: Opening salvos fired at start of Tesco inquiry


BATTLE lines have been drawn between Tesco and Cambridge City Council as the supermarket giant takes its fight to open a store in Mill Road to a planning inspector.

Tesco is appealing to be allowed to build a single-storey extension at the back of the former Wilco store and install refrigeration equipment after the council rejected its plans.

The two sides faced each other at the Guildhall in front of planning inspector David Nicholson, who said there were two key issues in the case: the effect of the proposals on highway safety and on the provision of parking spaces.

Tesco maintains the highways authority was fully aware Mill Road was an accident blackspot with congestion problems when it was consulted and did not object to the plans.

It also argued, in its opening statement, put by its representative Stephen Morgan at the hearing, limited parking spaces are a “good thing”.

The council disputes the suitability of servicing the store by delivering to the front in Mill Road, turning into the service yard at the back or travelling around the oneway streets to get to the store.

It hired chartered engineer Christopher Ackroyd, to assess access to the site following a report commissioned by Tesco which said there was sufficient on-street car parking to meet demand generated by the Express store opening and it would not impact on safety.

Mr Ackroyd said delivery vehicles parking on Mill Road would “definitely be detrimental to highway safety, especially for cyclists”.

Questioned on whether the accident figures for Mill Road by the shop were not as bad as for the whole stretch, he replied: “Whether it’s 31st, first or 15th, I still say it is a problem.”

But he was taken to task by Mr Morgan, who said a large number of cyclists and low percentage of heavy goods vehicles actually meant there was greater capacity on the road.

Mr Morgan said: “You would expect a district centre like this, a successful district centre, to be busy, especially at peak times.

“It is not a reason for turning a development away which is otherwise compliant with policy objectives.”

Later, the inspector heard from two local councillors, Nichola Harrison, who represents Petersfield, and Killian Bourke, from Romsey.

Cllr Harrison said Tesco was trying to squeeze a “quart into a pint pot” by extending the store and that the shop had operated successfully as it was in the past and could do so again.

Cllr Bourke said: “I cannot see how anyone could seriously propose that Tesco delivery vehicles park on Mill Road for up to 40 minutes at a time. This flies in the face of common sense.”

The hearing is expected to continue until Friday.