Terence Blacker



Tesco’s Big Society squashes Sheringham

Anyone looking for a neat, dispiriting example of the way powerful retail conglomerates work in modern Britain might turn their eyes to the north Norfolk coast where this week, after a 14 year – yes, 14 year – campaign, the might of Tesco has finally bullied and cajoled its way to getting planning permission  for a supermarket outside the town of Sheringham

So this is what the Big Society means in reality – in matters involving small communities, big money will eventually always win.

Sincere commiserations should go to the local shop owners and to anyone in the area who values the life, variety and jobs that those small businesses bring to a community.

Almost the scariest aspect of the story was the crazed, quasi-religious excitement of the rather odd assortment of the Tesco enthusiasts following the planning decision this week. It reminded me of the South Park episode in which the townspeople of South Park are turned into wide-eyed consumer zombies after a supermarket is opened outside the town.

No wonder Tesco buys up potential sites around the country and is prepared to play the long game, using the its massive power and financial muscle in its  war of attrition against local shops. The juggernaut rumbles on.

Anyone concerned about the effect of Tesco on towns and communities across the country should support the Tescopoly campaign.


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Article Comments

  1. M J Rathbone

    You have ignored the results of a Parish Poll. The Sheringham people said (over 80%) that they wanted a supermarket. They opted for Tesco over Waitrose. That is people power rather than Tesco power.

  2. Terence Blacker

    The poll I read about a couple of weeks ago was evenly poised between Tesco and the alternative – and that’s after 14 years of campaigning by a big, hungry corproation. There was only going to be one winner in this battle.

  3. Andrew Lawn

    I couldn’t agree more with this piece. Tesco were going to win from the day the old NNDC CEO signed the secret deal back in 2003. The whole process, particularly in the last six months has stunk, but the local press have ignored the real story. I notice a well-known Tesco supporter has again claimed a victory for the supermarket in the recent Parish Poll, forgetting that many many more people voted NO to Tesco, than YES.

  4. Caz Sayles

    It was a devastating day for many of the towns residents. For 14 years they have been fighting this retail giant, at the last moment it looked like Tesco’s were defeated when in March 2010 planning permission was given to a rival plan, this plan included a Greener store with an added food academy for the community to enjoy. This would have been a real bonus for the town, now and for years to come. But due to some sleight of hand Tesco’s managed to revise their planning and submit these ‘revised’ (according to Tesco’s no different really to the original) plans before the Greenhouse decision was ratified. I’m still wondering how this could be as he council will not give us an answer. To add to this the traffic survey used to support the Tesco plan was 4 years old?? How was this allowed?
    MJ Rathbone- The poll also pointed to the fact that more sheringham residents did NOT want a Tesco’s than did NOT want a Waitrose/ Greenhouse community project. People power my a**e!!

  5. NR26

    I doubt that you know our town mr blacker, but its a town of 8000, a number vastly swelled by visitors all year round. Our local shops have never been able to adequately supply our needs. Hence the hunger for a supermarket and Tesco are the only ones keen to fill that gap. The rival waitrose bid came very late in the day and was in the wrong location, indeed they would have to provide a free bus to take people from the town away to their store with its second floor cafe. Many of us who live here know which is more likely to damage our town centre. Maybe you would just prefer we all continue taking our cars 5 to 10 miles away to do a family shop.

  6. Callum

    I saw very little Bullying from Tesco in this. I supperted a Tesco and the only “bullying” for want of a better word was from anti Tesco people who were both abusive and offensive to many who genuinely 1) care for Sheringham and 2) Support a Tesco!

  7. R Abraham

    As a North Norfolkman in exile, I commiserate with the people of Sheringham. I live daily with the carnage wrought in small town centres caused by Tesco and their likes.