Video: TV star protests against Tesco plan

COMEDIAN and TV personality Griff Rhys Jones has called for an MP to “get off the fence” and help prevent a Tesco being built in a Suffolk town.

Anthony Bond

COMEDIAN and TV personality Griff Rhys Jones has called for an MP to “get off the fence” and help prevent a Tesco being built in a Suffolk town.

The Restoration presenter visited Hadleigh yesterday where town councillors showed him the plans for the proposed Tesco at the Brett Works Industrial Estate.

He also walked around the town to look at the impact the proposed site may have.

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Councillors told Mr Rhys Jones, who lives near Holbrook, that Suffolk South MP Tim Yeo was reluctant to get involved with the campaign to prevent the store being built.

In response, Mr Rhys Jones said: “For one reason or another, there are so many people opposed to this and the only future is to make this a political issue.

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“People come out here and live here because they love this town and if Babergh District Council will not do anything about it and if Tim Yeo will not step forward and say that it is bad idea then vote him out.

“I really think it is time for Tim Yeo to get off the fence and say 'no'. It is time to make this sort of thing a political issue.”

He added: “It is a short term thing for Tesco to put a store here. It will not be big enough and the plan will eventually be to turn it into something much bigger or abandon the store and turn it into another shopping centre. Everything about this plan is wrong.”

Last night Mr Yeo said: “The council is the right body to decide, not the Member of Parliament and I only get involved when I think that there is a very strong local issue at stake and where there is broad agreement in the community about what should be done.

“In the case of Tesco it is obviously a very long running controversy and I believe there are strong views on both sides and I respect the people arguing very strongly against and also those who say it will bring benefits to the town and the traders in the town.

“I follow the debate with great interest and despite the criticism from Griff I am not inclined to change this stance. I am trying to represent people on both sides of this argument.”

Nick Gellatly, from Tesco, said the site was the only one in town earmarked for a supermarket development in Babergh District Council's Local Plan.

“It's the only one that fits in to the planning proposals,” he said. “It's good that people like Griff Rhys Jones take an interest in towns like Hadleigh but it's important that they talk to the whole community. I think he will find a great number of people who actually want a store. Most of them are supermarket customers anyway but they have to go to Martlesham or Ipswich.”

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