Rosemary Clarke has been voted in as a councillor for Brixham Town Council under the banner of Brixham Residents Against Tesco Superstores (BRATS). This sends a very clear message to Tesco’s, Torbay Council and the Torbay Development Agency that the people do not want a Tesco superstore development at the very heart of their historic fishing town.
Rosemary is delighted at the outcome, which now gives BRATS legitimacy to speak on behalf of the community, unlike other unelected voices and organisations in the community.
Rosemary told the PRSD: “I will do my best to stop this development and work with the people to create an alternative vision for the town centre that is more in keeping with this beautiful, fishing town.
“We need a town centre that reflects our distinctive nature, is in keeping with the conservation area and supports local businesses and suppliers. Tesco needs to learn from Costa Coffee in Totnes that listened to the people when they objected to the coffee shop coming to town.”
The request for a people’s vote on the Tesco development had overwhelming public support at the Parish meeting in January 2012. Unfortunately, this never took place due to dubious ultra vires and cost reasons, according to the BRATS campaign. This result now gives a clear mandate to BRATS to represent the people against this development.
In the recent consultation of the development, people have expressed many concerns about the proposal. Most people agree that scale of the development is completely disproportionate to the needs of this small town. Others are concerned about the bland nature of the architecture and the impact on vistas across the town. Perhaps the most overwhelming concern is the impact on small businesses and suppliers.
The campaign says it is unrealistic to think that people shopping in the supermarket will continue to shop in the local grocers, the butchers, the fishmongers, the newsagents, the chemist and so on. These and other small family run businesses and their local suppliers will be paying the ultimate price for this huge giant retailer taking over the town. Even if people come into the town to shop at the superstore, money spent in Tesco’s will not stay in town, but will drained out of the local economy. According to a study by the New Economics Foundation, ‘approximately 90% of spending from supermarkets and chain stores leaks out of the local economy’.
At last, the damage of out of town supermarket developments has now been recognised, say BRATS, and the solution is a complete re-think, rather than bringing these giants into town. Recent evidence from the small town of Seaton in East Devon clearly demonstrates that bringing a supermarket into the town centre has not increased footfall into the town centre neither has it benefitted local businesses. To the contrary, as the following research by the East Devon District Council published this year reveals.
The arrival of Tesco, and the scale of the store, has brought shoppers from surrounding areas to the town. However, it was apparent to the Forum members visiting the town that those shoppers are not heading into the town shopping centre itself. In the shopping centre there are some empty shops, and some premises are in need of maintenance. During visits to the town centre, it was apparent that footfall is very low.
Torbay Councillors now have the chance to learn from the evidence in other areas and not make the same mistake at the expense of the future livelihoods and vitality of Brixham.
(from a press release)