Hundreds voice anger at Tesco plans

HUNDREDS of residents packed a public meeting last night to air their views about supermarket giant Tesco's plans to build a new store in a Suffolk town.

Mark Lord

HUNDREDS of residents packed a public meeting last night to air their views about supermarket giant Tesco's plans to build a new store in a Suffolk town.

The meeting, which was organised by Halesworth Town Council, was full of angry people eager to voice their concerns about the proposals.

It was held to give residents a chance to discuss issues surrounding the proposals to build a new store on land off Angel Link in the town ahead of a public exhibition being held by Tesco on Friday and Saturday .

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That proposal was discussed last night, along with the future of another site Tesco owns behind the Thoroughfare, which it now does not believe is the most appropriate location for a supermarket. It is instead supporting proposals for a future landowner to develop a mixture of local community facilities and shops on the site.

The meeting, which was often heated with the audience jeering at the Tesco representatives, heard from many of the 300 residents who had attended.

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Many of those who spoke opposed the possibility of a new store for ethical reasons rather than on planning grounds.

But concerns were raised about issues including traffic, the town's infrastructure, the impact the new store would have on local independent traders and why the town needed a second supermarket.

Speaking at the meeting Nick Gellatly, Tesco corporate affairs manager for the East of England, said: “Our stores are popular and that is why we need one here. But ultimately it is you who have a choice where you shop and who you support. I am sure those of you who support the local shops will continue to do so.”

He added that the issue of traffic and infrastructure would be addressed at the exhibition.

During the evening the majority of people who spoke opposed the store, with only three people speaking out in support of Tesco.

David Porter, who works at Coopers hardware store in the town, said: “The town is dying - we need a Tesco to revitalise it and bring people back here.”

Speaking after the meeting Mr Gellatly said: “We are committed to coming to Halesworth and working with the local people to ensure they have the store they want and that the development of the Throughfare site is what is needed in the town.

“These types of public meeting are always difficult for those in favour to feel that they can speak. I would advise people to think about what was said tonight and come to our exhibition on Friday and Saturday.”

The town council confirmed that it will be holding a second public meeting after the exhibition to again gauge people's opinions.

Tesco's exhibition is at the Old Print Works, behind the Thoroughfare, and takes place between noon and 7pm on Friday and 10am and 2pm on Saturday.

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