Friday, 17 December 2010
New Brighton Sainsbury's will be a disaster for local traders: I predict a wave of direct action
The store revealed its plan - to open a Sainbury Local on the site in Spring 2011, in a letter to me as ward councillor (in which the firm has asked for my support - fat chance!) - and it has been reported in today's Argus.
If it opens, the new supermarket will be the fourth in just a few shorth metres of St James's Street - and the sixth in a stretch running from Rock Gardens to the Clock Tower (about a ten-minute walk).
Let's be clear - a new Sainsbury's will be a disaster for the area and the wider environment: both for residents and local businesses.
It will reduce choice (after all, most of the supermarkets sell pretty much the same range of goods, mostly branded and trucked in in fleets of lorries), suck profits away from the town, undercut local businesses, drive local business rents up, and make the street look a little more like everywhere else in the coutry - reducing at a stroke the reasons why any visitor would want to come here.
Local residents - at least most of those at last week's St James's Area Local Action Team Meeting - are fiercely opposed to the coming of the retail giant.
Judging from the popular dissent at the opening, without planning permission, of a new Starbucks a little further up the road in 2008, and the increasing politicisation of people living in the area as a result of Government cuts in just about everything, I predict a wave of direct action against the store.
We can all start by boycotting their new outlet just a few metres away in North Street.
I think it's about time, we, and Brighton Council, started resisiting the onward march of Clone Town Britain: a good place is the excellent Re-imagining the High Street report by the New Economics Foundation.
Of course, the 'Londonization' (as the French call it) of Brighton is only to be expected, given the appalling Retail Study adopted when Labour ran the city, and the toothless way in which the Tories have tried to protect local businesses and communities too.
But just because resistance to the corporate onsluaght hasn't been as successful as we'd have like so far, it's no reason to stop trying.