Tuesday, September 24, 2013
‘No to Tesco’ was still the firm message from hundreds of Westward Ho residents and business owners as they met with representatives from the store.
HUNDREDS of people marched through Westward Ho! last night (Mon) in protest of plans for a new Tesco store in the village.
Around 200 residents and business owners then packed into Kingsley Hall to fire questions at James Wiggam and Simon Petar from Tesco.
Issues with lorries loading in the village, limited access for the Coastguard and the threat to local, independent businesses were among concerns raised.
Even children attended the meeting, with 11-year-old Casey Stone asking Mr Wiggam: “Have you actually thought about all of the other people’s jobs and how they could lose them?”
Mr Wiggam told residents the store would provide around 20 jobs for local people, but this was met with boos from the crowd.
“If you open up this store, I believe you will make this a ghost town,” said Mandy Roberts.
Business owner Nick Laws added: “We know our customers; if a customer comes into my shop I know him by name, he is not just a profit.
“We live and work together and yes, we feel threatened.”
But Mr Wiggam responded: “You’ve built that relationship with your customers, and essentially you will keep it; that means people will continue to shop with you.”
Mr Petar told residents the store was looking carefully at the issues surrounding access, and that lorries would load in the car park area.
“There would be one major delivery a day which would be a 10 metre artic lorry, with several smaller deliveries,” said Mr Petar.
But after several residents contested the logistics of this, Mr Petar conceded: “This may increase in the summer season.”
Councillor Roger Tisdale, who chaired the meeting, said: “There are around 2,000 residents living and 99 per cent of people are saying they don’t want Tesco here.
“We’ve done a consultation where we asked people if they want Tesco and 10 people have been for it, with a massive number against.
“You say you go where you’re wanted and where you’re needed. Well a, you are not wanted and b, you are not needed.”
The site on Golf Links Road, which is currently the Sunshine Leisure cafe and amusements arcade, already has planning permission for retail use.
If the store was to go ahead, Tesco would need to apply for permission for minor works to include signage and alterations for refrigeration equipment.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Wiggam could not confirm when or if an application would be submitted.
He said: “The next step is to continue to engage; it is still too early to say.”
To see more photos, click the gallery on the right of the page. You can also see a video of the march and meeting above.