Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Would you vote for Tesco?

Posted on This is My Truth on 11 August

Am I a hypocrite?

I shop in Tesco. I'd rather not. I get my meat from the local butcher and veg from an organic box scheme. But a chunk of my salary goes towards Tesco's £1 Billion annual turnover.

There are several large supermarkets in my town. The arrival of the last one finally put pay to the local fishmonger. I lamented, but often buy fish from the supermarket. The nearest fishmonger is seven miles away in central Cardiff.

Though supermarkets promise choice, the impact they have is to reduce choice. Opponents of a new supermarket in Machyneth know this. Local celebrity protestor George Mombiot writes about it in this morning's Guardian:

In 1998, the government commissioned a study of the impact of big stores on market towns. It found that when a large supermarket is built on the edge of the centre, other food shops lose between 13 and 50% of their trade. The result is “the closure of some town centre food retailers; increases in vacancy levels; and a general decline in the quality of the environment of the centre”

But if a supermarket giant is determined to come to town, there’s a limited amount that can be done about it.

So is it time to overhaul planning laws the rebalance the relationship. Should towns have to hold a referendum before supermarkets are allowed to move in? And would it make a difference?

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