PROTESTERS gathered in Barnstaple Square to voice their anger at plans to build a second Tesco store in the town and to gather names on a petition.
The Say No to Tesco group highlighted their cause with placards and marched through the town gathering support.
During the one-day protest they amassed more than 650 names on their petition, which called on signatories to boycott Tesco stores, and they are continuing their campaign via the Internet social networking site Facebook.
Organiser Catherine Walsh of Simonsbath said the fear was the effect another store would have on the centre of Barnstaple.
“I live outside Barnstaple, but this still affects me. I don’t like to see local towns in decline and being monopolised. These big stores seem to do what they want. We need different shops and smaller, independent businesses to start up in the centre of the community.”
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The message has been spread by Andy Redwood of Bishops Tawton, who started up the Facebook site.
He said: “We don’t need a second Tesco. There is a belief that supermarkets are good for the economy and produce jobs. But research has shown that they actually take jobs away from the local community and they take money out of the local community. Every �1 spent is �1 taken from our local retailers.”
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A statement from Tesco said Barnstaple was a robust and distinctive town centre with a mix of national and local retailers providing a wide range of consumer choice. A study by the local council in December 2009 found that the vacancy rate in the town centre was 6.5 per cent, well below the national average of 12. per cent.
The council study identified a growth in local consumer spending to support an additional retail space in Barnstaple by 2011, which was more than sufficient to accommodate the new Tesco store and to support the proposals at Queen Street/Bear Street, Cattle Market Car Park and Boutport Street/Silver Street and existing retailers in the town centre.
Juliette Bishop, Tesco Corporate Affairs Manager, said: “The development of the new Tesco store will regenerate this area of Barnstaple, offering additional new jobs for local people and more choice for local shoppers.”
Redevelopment work started last month and the new store will open early in 2011.