Veterans anger at collection ban
OLD soldiers have been left out in the cold after a Tesco store told them they could not collect in their shop.Outraged members of the Royal British Legion in Bury St Edmunds have now boycotted the store - but the local legion has lost around £5,000.
OLD soldiers have been left out in the cold after a Tesco store told them they could not collect in their shop.
Outraged members of the Royal British Legion in Bury St Edmunds have now boycotted the store - but the local legion has lost around £5,000.
The firm, which made £1.5 billion profits last year, told the volunteers they were not allowed to collect in the store and could only do so outside for two days.
Tesco - which is currently running TV ads starring pensioner Prunella Scales, boasting "Every little helps" - had already sent "guidelines' from its head office to its 1,000 shops to tell managers the legion is only allowed to collect for four days from this year.
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Legion members in Bury St Edmunds say they have been collecting at the store for years, mostly for weeks before November 11, to raise money for war heroes who fought for their country in past and current conflicts.
But this year they got a letter from Tesco laying down rules about this year's collection - and telling them they were only allowed to fund raise for two days.
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Eddie Delaney, 78, who served his country in the First Battalion, Suffolk Regiment, organises the local poppy appeal.
Mr Delaney, from Bury St Edmunds, said they had written to Tesco's twice to ask permission to collect, but got no reply.
He said they then received a letter setting down a list of rules, including that only two people were allowed to collect, near the exit.
Old soldiers were also told not to "create an obstruction' not to "inconvenience' anyone or shake their collection tins and to wear "appropriate clothing". They were also only given two days to collect on.
Members decided to collect elsewhere.
"I've been collecting at Sainsbury's for nearly three weeks with no problems there, they're brilliant,' said Mr Delaney.
He added: "There's a lot of people wondering what's gone wrong. It's the public we have been instructed not to harass. They have found out and said, 'We have not got our poppies.'
"We are hearing different stories from people who have shopped there for ages and say, `We are not going to give them our custom anymore'."
Neil Kirkham, 74, Suffolk county president of the RBL, said: "You can't expect old boys of 80 standing outside in the cold, freezing - you have to be fair.
"I think Tesco have got a cheek. They should make a donation.'
Mr Kirkham said the four-day rule was not long enough for people to be reminded of the forthcoming anniversary and to get their poppies in time.
"Blokes are on parades on the Saturday and Sunday anyway,' he added.
He said in past years there had not been a problem collecting in Tesco stores for at least a fortnight before the annual event.
Tesco said there had been "confusion' over a collection at the store - and cited "health and safety' rules dictated where people were allowed to collect.
The firm also said Mr Delaney should have got a letter to tell him the firm had decided to give the legion four days to collect, not two.
The spokesman added: "In order to show our full support for the British Legion's Poppy Appeal we have doubled the time set aside for collection from two days to four.
"This means more poppy collectors get into more stores and raise more money. This has been supported by the British Legion who have communicated this to poppy collectors up and down the country.'
Simon Home, the Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal manager said: "Tesco are supportive to the poppy appeal and we would not have wanted to do anything to upset this relationship.'