'Give Tesco go-ahead for sake of town'

SHOPS and traders in England's smallest town will continue to disappear if a new Tesco superstore does not get the green-light, it was controversially claimed last night.

James Hore

SHOPS and traders in England's smallest town will continue to disappear if a new Tesco superstore does not get the green-light, it was controversially claimed last night.

The supermarket giant's plans for a new superstore in Manningtree are due to be decided early next year by council planners.

There has been much public opposition to the proposals, but now a campaign group in favour of the new store has said there is a “silent majority” of people who want it to get the go-ahead.


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Manningtree businessman, Mark Morsley, has been liaising with Tesco officials to try to ensure their plans will benefit and not harm the town.

He told the EADT that people were currently travelling to shop in Colchester or Ipswich and said it was vital for the foot-fall to be brought back to the town.

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Mr Morsley is chairman of Manningtree4Tesco and the group's campaign website is due to be officially unveiled on Friday.

If Tesco is granted permission, it has been predicted it will be the biggest change Manningtree has seen in a century.

Former postman Mr Morsley said he knew of traders relying on the superstore getting the go-ahead in Station Road in order to save their businesses.

He said: “There is no doubt in my mind that the town will benefit - my company has been here for 10 years now and I can count on one hand the number of shops that have survived in the town for that long.

“The town has been dying for many, many years and there are empty shops and shops that have come and gone and that is because there is not enough foot-flow through the town.”

Mr Morsley, who runs MJM Financial Services and MGM Estates, said the store's new car park would help bring people into Manningtree because they would have 300 free parking spaces, instead of the limited opportunities at present.

“The antis pick up on certain situations where Tesco has gone into towns and the town has 'died' but you need to look past the initial facts and figures and see that Tesco is not the catalyst for what happens and that there were problems there to start with anyway.

“Tesco Express has rejuvenated that end of the High Street so we know it can work.

“I know for a fact of one trader in town whose lease is up in the spring and whether he signs again is totally dependent on Tesco getting the go-ahead.”

He said there would also be 200 “much-needed” jobs for locals, including 140 full-time posts.

Residents in Manningtree and surrounding villages opposed to the scheme set-up the Stour Community First campaign group.

It has claimed the opposite to Manningtree4Tesco and says a new superstore would “destroy the remaining small shops”.

Stour Community First's website states: “It is not just about opposing the Tesco proposals - although they have galvanised us into action.

“It is about uniting local people, groups and businesses to improve our community for the benefit of us all.”

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