Why I object to Tesco in Stokes Croft, Bristol

On Tuesday I ate (well) in Zazu’s Kitchen in the cultural quarter of Stokes Croft.

A unique area featuring street art from vintage Banksy
to up-to-the-minute street art attracting visitors from far and wide including Italian food blogger, Jasmine.

“93% of local people say NO to Tesco in Stokes Croft,” says the fresh notice on Stokes Croft’s  creative response to street drinking, Turbo Island.

How many Tescos does a city need? There are already 38 Tescos in Bristol according to Tesco – and two within five minutes of the proposed site.

Tesco picked the wrong place to wield its corporate takeover of the high street when it set its sights on the eighteenth-century building at 138-142 Cheltenham Road in Stokes Croft.

Using an intermediary (to deflect suspicion?), it bought the lease on Jesters comedy club and applied for change-of-use to shop in November 2009.

Apparently, one Bristol City councillor said: had he known it was Tesco applying, he would not have agreed. But the application got passed, unnoticed.

Thus Tesco infiltrated the heartland of Stokes Croft, as part of its taking advantage of the recession master-plan. What a double-win for Tesco: cheapness and take-over. The more shops Tesco has, the less competition.

Local shops cannot compete against a supermarket’s marketing millions. Hello supermarket means goodbye local family businesses.

Stokes Croft happens to bring together a powerful group of people: freethinkers, food activists and artists. The area’s independent shops offer a wealth of cultural diversity and quality food – including a long-established Italian delicatessen and organic farm shop – and community.

People know each other and help each other.

The local shops have an informal agreement not to sell cheap-as-dirt super-strength alcohol – the liver-rotting stuff supermarkets sell. It will be the beginning of the end if Tesco moves in.

As Joni Mitchell sung in the Sixties: “They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot… You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

There is still time to stop the juggernaut. All Bristolians have a right to object.

It’s true that current planning laws do not allow a Council to protect its own local shops as the Channel 4 Dispatches documentary: Tesco – the supermarket eating Britain – shows.

However the formal objection process against a shop front still gives plenty of scope for voicing concerns. Tesco front store branding promises cheapness but is a lie. Our local shops are cheaper than Tesco Express, according to a local survey.

I am helping run workshops to help people write their letters. We all need encouragement. I know I did.

The No Tesco in Stokes Croft campaignwebsite has a template letter to email to Bristol City Council. Copy and paste, then top-and-tail with a list of your concerns and your postal address.

The deadline for emailing your objection is the 14 September 2010.

I have also sent my written statement asking to speak at the planning committee on 22 September at Bristol City Council on College Green.

There will be a party on College Green from 12.30 – 2.00pm to celebrate our campaign. Whatever happens, our fight for fair planning laws has just begun.

16 responses to “Why I object to Tesco in Stokes Croft, Bristol

  1. Looking forward to Thursday 9 September’s edition of the Bristol Evening Post – Tesco’s dirty tricks exposed. Could be shocking. You are warned….


  2. Dear Elisabeth

    Thanks for continuing to raise this important local issue and the deadline for responses.

    A couple of errors, one minor and one major….

    (1) The application by Jesters for change of use was in September 2009 (not “November 2009“)

    (2) You state, “Apparently, one Bristol City councillor said: had he known it was Tesco applying, he would not have agreed. But the application got passed, unnoticed.” – that is not true. See my comment at http://bit.ly/aUqlMU written on 10th Feb 2010.

    For a start, no councillor was involved in the simple “change of use” request. It was an officer decision in November 2009.

    Second, IF a councillor had been aware, and IF he or she was on the development Control committee and IF the majority of councillors had agreed THEN a “change of use” might have been refused.

    Best wishes



  3. Many thanks, Jon, for putting me straight on the date of the application for change of use, and also for correcting me on the correct and layered democratic process that planning applications have to pass through.

    My few words did not do justice to this and probably made it sound as if councillors have more power over planning than they do.

    I appreciate.


  4. More power to your elbow! We have a new Tesco opened just round the corner in what used to be a pub, and I can’t help thinking what a waste of an opportunity for a local/community based business. We have a thriving farmers market, so why not a community shop?


  5. An article in the Daily Mail a week ago highlights Tesco’s ‘business’ tactics of buying properties through through third parties and over-representing local support:


    Thanks for another great article and for sharing your passion.


  6. Thank you for this well considered post Elisabeth. And for keeping plugging away at something that naturally takes a long, long time to resolve.


  7. If Dave P**** is wondering where his comment went, I deleted it as it used offensive words.

    I don’t know why Tesco brings out the rudeness in people who support it. But it seems to.


  8. Hi Elizabeth

    Don’t know if you noticed, but one of the BEP trolls was having a go at you over on their Tesco “report”: “Elizabeth winkler and clare milne (calamity myopic) are the ever present protesters. Both work shy, and principally trying to get everyone on board with vegetarianism and healthy food eating because they blame supermarkets for their inability to get out of bed and real jobs, and the very idea that a supermarket has ‘snuck’ one in on their own patch would be embarrassing to their cause. I read one of the coat tailing lapites quip about not having enough time to pursue sainsbury’s on Gloucester Road because they have their hands full with tesco’s. my foot. If it was in stokes croft different story, yet people lap it up.

    These people seem to want to bring country side thinking to town centres, which by its very principle is not what we have town centres for. If you don’t like it, move back to the country side.
    mrmontpelier, montpelier”


  9. BSK, I would very much like the contact details of the person who wrote the report mentioned in the post above. I would like to tell them how very WRONG they are, and how much I would like to sue them for slander and libel.


    • Thanks for the support but you can’t sue them, sadly, because the rude slanderous comments have been made anonymously. I think that is very shoddy myself. I always comment under my own name.

      This is what is called “trolling” – using the anonymity of the web to vent frustration – rather like road-rage.

      I just wish the trolls would wake up the unfettered power of the corporates, and stop attacking people who are questioning this power.


  10. Elizabeth, it was commented on 10-Sep-2010 13:55 under this article: http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/news/Tesco-frustrated-fierce-opposition-say-raw-deal-Bristol/article-2624327-detail/article.html . Unfortunately, BEP does not have a very good system of vetting comments so anyone can post under any pseudonym.


    • Hi bsk – thanks for letting me know about the comments. They are awful! Rather than debate the issues, the comments attack the campaigners.

      The cheek of being called lazy! I will take the opportunity here to say: I am a taxpayer and not on benefits – although even if I were I would still have a right to object to Tesco in Stokes Croft. I am a full-time carer and a freelance editor – my campaigning is squeezed into a very full day.

      I complained to Northcliffe about the tone of the comments and received a very sympathetic reply. The best thing to do is to press the button “report abuse”, apparently.

      Anyway, thanks bsk, for trying to defend the cause on the Bristol Evening Post website.


  11. These trolls are awful. It’s the same half-dozen of them on any post that has to do with traffic (cyclists are workshy, unwashed hippies), supermarket protests (protesters are workshy, unwashed hippies) and any other subject where someone does not wholly swallow the status quo (anyone to the left of Gengis Khan are workshy, unwashed hippies). The best is, I suppose, just to ignore them.

    I’m sure that the BEP could do something about it by having a proper registration process, but won’t because allowing trolls increases the traffic to their website which is good when trying to attract advertisers.


  12. Tesco is barging into the ‘developing’ world in a big way. See this essay


    One idea is to become a Tesco shareholder (that is, if it’s publicly traded) and go to shareholder meetings to protest. Quite a few people can do it. You can be a shareholder for as little as a pound.


  13. Pingback: Stokes Croft Community, Bristol, Struggles for a Voice | EXTRANEA

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