Leiston: Traders join forces to fight controversial Tesco bid

CONCERNED traders have joined forces in a bid to stop supermarket giant Tesco moving onto the outskirts of a town centre.

Shopkeepers in Leiston have formed a campaign group to voice their fears over the proposals for Abbey Road.

Retailer Tesco wants to build a 20,000 sq ft store and business park next to Jewson – a move they say will generate 200 jobs.

But local retailers are concerned that because the planned development is on the edge of town it will take footfall away from the main shopping area. They have now formed Lay off Leiston and are urging others to “Say No” to the development.

A recent survey by the group found that 62% of traders were opposed to the plans.

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Chairman Chris Nichols, who owns Nichols butchers, said: “There is no doubt that if the supermarket is built then it will take away passing trade. All the shops will be affected.

“We already have the Co-op in Leiston and they are also proposing to build a Tesco in nearby Saxmundham – it’s overkill. People will just jump into their car, do their weekly or monthly shopping and go home.

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“Leiston is unique with a lot of individual, independent stores. There is a real danger that we will become just another clone town with lots of empty shops.”

Tony Bloor, of Sara’s Shoe Box, added: “We accept that there has to be competition. If it’s in the centre of town it’s a fair cop but the fact that its on the outskirts will make a massive difference. A lot of the small companies need the footfall from passing trade as well as their regular customers. Leiston could become a ghost town.”

Parry Minhas, who runs the town’s post office, also highlighted the knock-on effect to surrounding villages. “If we get less customers we will be forced buy less from local suppliers,” he said. “The effect will be felt throughout the community and neighbouring villages.”

A Tesco spokeswoman said they were aware of the concerns but the size of store proposed would stop people from visiting supermarkets elsewhere – such as Martlesham.

“If they can do their weekly shopping locally, they are more likely to spend time and money in the high street,” she said.

If given the go-ahead for the store they would do all they could to support local businesses and invest in links between the site and the town centre, she added.

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