Monday, 21 June 2010

Brighton community groups gear up for yet another David v Goliath battle with Tesco

Just months after walking away from a planned - but deeply unpopular - retail complex in the London Road area supermarket giant Tesco is facing another David v Goliath battle with Brighton community groups over its plan to build a superstore on the site of a community garden in Lewes Road.

Green councillors, local MP Caroline Lucas and regional Green Euro-MP Keith Taylor have called for a boycott of the supermarket chain after developers Alburn Ltd launched a court bid today to evict community groups from the garden.

Local councillor Pete West summed up residents' feeling perfectly, saying:

“Local people don’t want or need a Tesco, and I am deeply opposed to plans for yet another supermarket in a road that already has a Co-op supermarket, a Sainsbury’s, a Spar and a very good Turkish mini-market.

“The last thing the Lewes Road needs is another supermarket that nobody has asked for. I am asking residents to show Tesco that a new store would be a failure, by pledging to boycott it.”

Local MP Caroline Lucas has urged Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to do all he can to stop the building of yet another supermarket on the site and has called for a competition test to halt the unchecked growth of super-markets and the devastating impact it has on local businesses, local communities and consumer choice.

In a letter to Mr Pickles and Planning Minister Greg Clarke she said:

“The Competition Commission concluded that the dominance of any one retailer in a local area has a negative impact on consumer choice. It recommended a competition test to stop supermarkets opening a new store in places where they already control the local market. I am disappointed the Government is now delaying implementation of the competition test.”

Former ward councillor Keith Taylor, now an MEP for the South-East region, added his voice to the campaign:

"In my time as ward councillor I was happy to welcome the community garden, and negotiated with the site owner to allow continued use of the site.

"In its year of operation the garden has been a focal point for developing a real community spirit and has reflected the wonderful diversity and energy of the city.

"I don't think anybody wants another supermarket here and now that eviction is on the cards I support the garden as much as ever."

The 'guerilla gardeners', who created the garden on the disused site of a former petrol station just over a year ago, also have an unlikely ally in Tory Brighton City Council leader Mary Mears.

Unlikely because, when it comes to defending communities from powerful vested interests, she usually sides with the crypto-fascist voices of unreason. Just last week, for example, she criticised Sussex Police for failing to ban a cyclists protest designed to darw attention to bikers' vulnerabilities from cars, and for failing to arrest travellers and van dwellers, whose lifestyle choices she deems 'unacceptable'.

She said: "The issue of multinationals and their impact on local economies is one we cannot afford to ignore." 

This might be the first, and perhaps the last, time I think she's spot on. But every little helps.

No comments:

Post a Comment