Campaigners meet to oppose Westward Ho! Tesco plans
- Credit: Archant
Hundreds of people packed into a village pub to discuss how they would oppose any forthcoming planning application from the superstore giants.
HUNDREDS of protesters packed into a pub in Westward Ho! last night (Weds) to send a clear message to Tesco: “We don’t want you here.”
The ‘Say No to Tesco’ campaign was launched after the superstore announced it was hoping to submit a planning application for an Express store in the village this year.
Residents, holiday makers and business owners filled the Village Inn to air their outrage at the plans and were supported by local councillors and MP Geoffrey Cox.
The store is proposed for part of the Sunshine Leisure amusement arcades on Golf Links Road, but concerns were raised about the narrow roads and pinch points there, as well as the loss of around 40 parking spaces.
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Nick Laws, a local resident and businessman, said: “If we’re honest, we all use supermarkets at times.
“Families generally do their big shop at supermarkets and Westward Ho! shops are there for day-to-day shopping during the week.
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“But for Tesco that’s not enough though, is it?
“They want the day-to-day shopping as well and I personally think enough is enough.”
The village, which has a population of around 1,800 people, already has two convenience stores, two bakeries, a butchers and a chemist, among other independent retailers.
Bev and Cam Lavis, who have recently taken ownership of Westward Ho! Village Stores which is now a Nisa, said they have never known anywhere like the village.
“We left everything and moved here with a young family, and Tesco are not going to beat us,” said Cam.
“We care about the people we employ and if it effects our business we’re going to have to let them go.”
Ben added that the purpose of the meeting was to bring everyone together to decide how to take on the issue.
“We can gather our arms and when we see what the battlefield is like we can go forward,” he said.
Councillors at the meeting reassured residents that they would support them.
“You can rest assured we will fight tooth and nail on your behalf,” said Cllr Barry Mason, mayor of Northam.
MP Geoffrey Cox urged people to look at the grounds for planning refusals, if and when a planning application is submitted.
He said: “In Westward Ho! you’re incredibly lucky with the number and quality of retail offerings you have here.
“But they would be destroyed if you get a Tesco on that site.
“You have you’re butchers, your bakers, your candlestick makers.
“I can’t believe anybody who lives here or loves it here would do anything other than want to preserve the richness you have here.”
The group agreed to set up a Facebook and Twitter campaign as well as an online petition to go with the one in shops which has already received more than 1,600 signatures.
Bev Coombes, who kicked off the campaign against the superstore, said she was very impressed with the turnout at the meeting.
She said: “On Tesco’s website their strap-line is: ‘we go where we’re needed and where we’re wanted’; well they’re not needed or wanted here.”