Archive for the ‘Media coverage’ Category.

CEN article: MP highlights Tesco’s Mill Road campaign

AN MP has accused Tesco of “military efficiency” in its efforts to open up in Mill Road, Cambridge.

Barry Sheerman, MP for Huddersfield, highlighted the case as he called for tighter controls on Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.

He told business minister Pat McFadden: “When one of those supermarkets decides that it is going to be the dominant retail player in one’s area, it moves in a way that would bring credit to any military operation anywhere in the world.

“Supermarkets are a particularly sensitive issue because of their impact on the versatility, sustainability and diversity of our towns and cities. We can see that shrinking all the time with international global brands replacing local businesses.

“It happened in Cambridge. I believe that the local authority has given planning permission to Tesco in a beautiful part of Cambridge. I know that many people campaigned against it.”

Cambridge Evening News, 7th June 2008

Letters to the paper in support of the Campaign

Letters to the Cambridge Evening News continue to come in from members of the public in support of our campaign to stop Tesco forcing its way into Mill Road. Here are a selection.

(More links will be added as articles are published and as time permits.)

CEN article: Mill Road traders fear for the future

Small traders are devastated after Tesco vowed to open a store in Mill Road.

The supermarket giant dealt the blow when it made the shock announcement on Friday.

Home - Protest to save Mill Road from a Tesco store

Protest to save Mill Road from a Tesco store

Traders at some of the 13 grocery stores in the street say they now face a bleak future.

But Tesco chiefs have accused traders and campaigners of being “alarmist” and say the store is too small to have a massive impact on other stores.

Tesco will start work on transforming the former Wilco site in July – but face a summer of discontent from campaigners.

The controversial move comes despite massive protests, including a petition signed by more than 5,000 people, a 600-strong street march and more than 1,000 letters of objection.

The No Mill Road Tesco campaign claimed a victory in March when planners threw out a bid by Tesco for an extension to the store.

But it will now use the existing building and only needs planning permission for an air conditioning and freezer plant.

Small traders have been rocked by the news and fear for their livelihoods.

Mrs Magsooda Malik, who owns Hilary’s Greengrocers, said the move will devastate small businesses on the street famed for its unique shops.

She said: “It’s going to close a lot of shops. Everyone will be effected – the Londis, the Co-op and all the other stores. It is devastating for small shops.

“Tesco says they are going to create 20 jobs, but what about all the people who work in the shops that will close? We will keep fighting this to save our street.”

Mrs Vara, who owns Balv’s grocers and Balv’s hair salon, fears that her shops will go under.

She said: “We are very upset. It is going to have a bad effect on all of the shops in Mill Road. I have two shops, and if I have to close one down it will be the end for us here.

“We have been trading here for more than 20 years – longer than most of the shops.

“If we lose our business we wouldn’t know what to do. All we know is working here.

“Tesco say that them opening here won’t affect ethnic shops but we also rely on people buying other goods.

“We rely on trade from students and I think a lot of them will go to Tesco thinking it will be cheaper. The future does not look good.”

A Tesco spokesperson said: “Comments that many local shops will close if Tesco opens are unnecessarily alarmist and don’t contribute to a sensible debate on an issue which is of interest to local people.

“Tesco are proposing a small convenience store, less than half the size of the local Co-op. To suggest that a store of this size could lead to closure of the Co-op and a number of other shops is clearly untrue.

“There simply wouldn’t be enough stock on the shelves and enough space in the Tesco Express to accommodate that many customers.”

Cambridge Evening News, 12th May 2008

Rebuttal to points made in CEN article

On 9th May, the Cambridge Evening News carried an article “Tesco to start work on new store in July“. In our view, many of the points raised were seriously misleading, and seemed to have swallowed Tesco’s PR spin without question.

We publish below a rebuttal of the points in the article, followed by the misleading article itself.


The following is the No Mill Road Tesco Campaign’s response to this article.

“A TESCO will open in Mill Road despite massive protests, the News can reveal.”

Tesco will not open if it does not get planning permission and if it cannot make deliveries by lorry or sell alcohol. The CEN are uncritically parroting the Tesco line that they can take approval for granted. Both the CEN and Tesco made exactly this assumption about the last set of applications, and look where it got them.

“Tesco chiefs confirmed they will forge ahead with opening the shop”

No, we have been told that they are “considering” it – not the same thing at all (You might consider chucking in your job and trying out for Manchester United but that does not mean it’s going to happen).

“Work will start on the former Wilco site in July, bosses have announced.”

They will not start work if they do not have planning permission! In any case, work could not start in July, as Tesco must know. The application, which has yet to be submitted (if it ever is), would have to go back to the East Area Committee. The EAC will meet on 5th June – which would be too early for this application even if it were submitted today. (There would have to be a period for people to comment and then the officers would have to publish their report a week before the meeting) – and the next meeting of the EAC is not until 31 July.

“An artist’s impression of how the new Tesco Express store in Mill Road will look.”

This looks like the drawing they submitted with the last lot of plans. Reissuing it is obviously designed to suggest that they have gone to the trouble of commissioning new drawings, and thus to show that they are serious about the “new application”. They haven’t.

“Tesco bosses have one hurdle left to clear, which is permission for an air conditioning and refrigeration plant.”

So, just like last year, they need planning permission to open their store. The plant, if it’s the same as last time, was identified as not meeting local authority requirements – and it was Tesco’s own acoustic report that said this.

Obviously there is also the tiny matter of not being able to make any deliveries by lorry and not having an alcohol licence, and being highly unlikely to get either.

“An application will be submitted to Cambridge City Council “shortly”.”

That’s very interesting because Raymond Brown told the campaign several times on 8th May that the application would be submitted next week. Shortly is a lot vaguer than next week, and suggests that the decision may not yet have actually been taken.

“Our plans for Mill Road have attracted a lot of attention, but also a lot of misunderstanding. We have always had the consent to operate a shop there, a fact that has often been missing from the public debate.”

Obviously the idea that we did not all know the site was already approved for use as a shop is absurd.

“As with any new store proposal from Tesco, we are keen to talk to any local groups or councillors who wish to discuss our plans.”

Michael Kissman wanted to speak to us in November; we spoke to him in November. He has shown no interest in talking to us since then. The campaign is very much hoping to have the chance to discuss their plans with him in the public inquiry. Suddenly, however, they do not seem to be quite so keen on that anymore…

“The new store will create around 20 jobs.”

This is not true. As the campaign said before, even assuming these are real figures (not just spin), only 2 of these are full time jobs, and they are not net jobs, so you would have to subtract the number of full-time jobs lost as a result of Tesco opening.

“Tesco is reviewing its original plans for an extension.”

Translated, this means Tesco know they are going to lose the appeal and so are considering withdrawing it.

The campaign’s reading of all this is as follows: Tesco are floating the idea of a smaller store both in the paper and in private conversations in order to see if it is likely to be possible (if they will get planning permission and if they will be given permission to make the deliveries they need). If they get the sense that these things will not be forthcoming, then they will go ahead with the appeal because although they expect to lose, there is always an outside chance they might win. If they get the sense that the council will give them the delivery access and planning permission they need for the smaller store, then they will cut their losses on the original plans and go for the smaller store.

It is interesting to note, though, that six of the nine grounds for appeal given by Tesco to the Planning Inspectorate related to the deliveries issue and one was to the air conditioning and refrigeration plant. Whether they try to get permission for a bigger store or a smaller one, these issues are still there. If they do not think their arguments on these points would hold up at appeal, they cannot really think they will hold up at council level either.

No Mill Road Tesco Campaign


Here is the article itself:

Tesco to start work on new store in July

raymond.brown@cambridge-news.co.uk

Home - The site of the proposed Tesco store in Mill Road

The former Wilco store Tesco will replace.

A TESCO will open in Mill Road despite massive protests, the News can reveal.

The supermarket giant yesterday (Thursday, 08 May) dealt a blow to campaigners against the controversial Express store.

Tesco chiefs confirmed they will forge ahead with opening the shop, in a street famed for its unique independent stores.

Work will start on the former Wilco site in July, bosses have announced.

The existing building will be used after an extension was refused by planners – but the No Mill Road Tesco campaign still has a glimmer of hope.

Home - New Tesco

An artist’s impression of how the new Tesco Express store in Mill Road will look.

Tesco bosses have one hurdle left to clear, which is permission for an air conditioning and refrigeration plant.

An application will be submitted to Cambridge City Council “shortly”.

Campaigners claim the store would cause traffic hell, pollution and threaten the future of independent shops.

More than 5,000 people signed a petition against the plans, 600 marched in protest through Cambridge and more than 1,000 sent letters of objection.

The Cambridge Cycling Campaign has also opposed to the move, fearing congestion from added delivery lorries as well as dangers to pedestrians and cyclists.

On March 6 councillors from Cambridge City Council’s East Area Committee approved two planning applications for a cash machine and new store frontage and signage.

Permission to operate a shop on the site already existed.

But councillors cited highway concerns when it turned down a bid by Tesco to extend the building for storage, plant and staff areas.

Since then expert designers have been drafted in to draw up plans for the existing building, as the News reported.

Those plans have now been approved by Tesco bosses who are calling in a team of contractors to complete the store.

Michael Kissman, Tesco’s corporate affairs manager, said: “We couldn’t have opened the shop we originally planned without the extension, but we have reviewed the site and developed some plans that will deliver a great shop for customers using the existing space.

“Of course, the store layout and range will be slightly different, but it will still offer a good range of fresh food and basic shopping items.

“Our plans for Mill Road have attracted a lot of attention, but also a lot of misunderstanding. We have always had the consent to operate a shop there, a fact that has often been missing from the public debate.

“I can’t imagine anyone wants this shop unit to sit empty any longer. Our plans will bring the site back into use and improve the frontage – this can only be good for the local area and economy.

“As with any new store proposal from Tesco, we are keen to talk to any local groups or councillors who wish to discuss our plans.”

But Ruth Deyermond, a spokeswoman for the No Mill Road Tesco campaign, has vowed the fight will go on.

She said: “We do not expect to see a Tesco in Mill Road. It is not economically viable and local people will carry on the successful campaign against it. We do not believe Tesco will get planning permission. We will fight it.”

The new store will create around 20 jobs.

Tesco is reviewing its original plans for an extension.

Cambridge Evening News, 9th May 2008

Local Secrets survey finds clear majority feel EAC was right to refuse Tesco’s application

Local Secrets have conducted an indicative survey.

The results are now available.

CEN article: Tesco’s secret plan to beat Mill Rd ruling

[This CEN article contains Tesco spin which has, yet again, turned out not to be true …]

TESCO bosses have a secret strategy to open a store in Mill Road without further planning permission.

A team of experts and designers has already been drafted in to draw up a plan for the store in the existing building in Cambridge.

The revelation comes after the supermarket vowed to push ahead with plans for the store, despite a setback at a planning meeting on Thursday night.

Councillors threw out a bid from the supermarket giant to build an extension to the shop, which was hailed a victory for campaigners.

Home - Sonia Cooter

Sonia Cooter distributes leaflets about a protest

Since then the News has learned that store bosses have a back-up scheme already in place to open the controversial shop – bypassing the council.

Michael Kissman, Tesco’s corporate affairs spokesman, said: “Our preferred option is to have the extension, which would be better for our customers.

“We still think the extension is our best option.”
The revelation will come as a disappointment to campaigners against the store, on the street famed for its unique independent shops.

The No Mill Road Tesco campaign was triumphant after plans to extend the building were thrown out by councillors.

Campaigners and residents packed the Cambridge City Council East Area Committee planning meeting at St Philip’s Church, in Mill Road.

They cheered when councillors threw out the extension plans – but permission was granted for two signs, a shop front and an ATM.

Both sides in the battle hailed the decision as a victory.

Mr Kissman said: “This is good news for Tesco. We can now put up the sign and the ATM which means we could open the shop tomorrow.”

But Shilpa Shah, a member of the campaign committee, vowed that the protest would continue.

She said: “Obviously the campaign will carry on if Tesco open the shop whether they get planning permission or not.

“But Tesco have put it in writing that they need the extension for their fridges and storage to open the shop.”

Ruth Deyermond, planning co-ordinator for the campaign, was adamant that Tesco would not open the store.

She said: “We are ecstatic that seven councillors gave a flat no to Tesco on the extension. Tesco cannot open the store as it is. It is just not viable.”

The council has set out the reasons for refusal of the extension application.

Planners said that Mill Road is the third or fourth worst site in Cambridgeshire for clusters of traffic accidents.

They decided the extension “would seriously prejudice the safety and free flow of traffic on the public highway”.

The shortage of parking space in the area was also cited.

The campaign against the store has been mounting since the first application went in last September.

More than 5,000 people signed a petition against the plans and more than 1,000 sent letters of objection.

Cambridge Evening News, 8th March 2008

CEN article: Tesco vow despite Mill Road setback

Note the spin by Tesco in this article despite their clear loss at the East Area Committee …

Home - Protesters have continued their campaign

Tesco protesters have continued their campaign

TESCO bosses have vowed to forge ahead with plans for a store in Mill Road – despite a setback at a planning meeting last night.

Supermarket chiefs told the News today they “could open the store tomorrow” after being granted permission for two signs, a shop front and an ATM.

The tough talking comes after a vote last night against plans to extend the building, on the street famed for its small independent shops.

Tesco does not need planning approval to open the store – but wants the extra space which encroaches onto a car park for storage and deliveries.

Campaigners and residents came out in force for the Cambridge City Council East Area Committee planning meeting at St Philip’s Church, in Mill Road last night.

Home - The site of the proposed Tesco store in Mill Road

The site of the proposed Tesco store in Mill Road

Protesters were armed with signs which have come to symbolise the ‘No Mill Road Tesco’ campaign.

But both sides in the battle are now claiming victory after the decision by councillors.

Michael Kissman, Tesco’s corporate affairs spokesman, said: “This is good news for Tesco. We can now put up the sign and the ATM which means we could open the shop tomorrow.

“With the signage and the shop frontage we now have the basics to open a store. We would like to have the extension because we believe it would be better for the shop, the area and our customers.

“It was a good result for us and we could open up the unit now but it would be better with the extension. The reality is that we have got everything we need to open.

“It would have been a bit odd to open without a sign.

“We will now look at the details of the refusal and decide where to go from here.”

Tom Woodcock, publicity officer for the campaign, was equally defiant and told Tesco it should pack up and leave the site.

He said: “I don’t think Tesco can open the store whether it gets permission for the extension or not.

“It is just not viable for the area and in our calculations would take £2 million out of the local community as most independent traders plough money back into the local economy.

“And we estimate that the store will need up to 70 delivery lorries – the council estimate more than 40 and Tesco says it will be 40. That just won’t be possible in such a busy road. Each delivery would take up to 45 minutes.

“Tesco could open if it wanted to but it would be unsafe to do so. This has not been properly thought out in terms of access. The best thing that Tesco can do is to give up and sell the site.”

The campaign against the store has been mounting since the first application went in last September.

More than 5,000 people signed a petition against the plans, more than 1,000 sent letters of objection and 600 marched in protest through Cambridge.

Cambridge Evening News, 7th March 2008

CEN article: Tesco dealt a blow for Mill Road plans

The Cambridge Evening News published an article on the morning after our success, but then removed the article from the online edition.

The article was originally at www.cambridge-news.co.uk/cn_news_home/DisplayArticle.asp?id=262169 .

Here is a scan of the paper edition:

080307-cen-tesco-dealt-a-blow-for-mill-road-plans

Cambridge Crier article: Blow for Tesco’s Mill Road plans

080307-crier-blow-for-tescos-mill-road-plans

Interview on BBC Radio Cambs: decision day

We were interviewed on BBC Radio Cambs today about the Tesco plans and the decision to be made tonight.