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26 April 2010

Bristol City Council ask Tesco to back down over Stokes Croft site

In a public letter the leader of Bristol City Council, Barbara Janke has asked Tesco to back down over its plans for Stokes Croft and allow the site to be used by a community-owned alternative [1].

Janke writes, “We would like Stokes Croft to become a distinctive destination in Bristol and do not believe another chain store will help achieve this aim.”

Despite invitations Tesco has refused to meet with representatives of NO Tesco in Stokes Croft, making a mockery of their claim to “listen to people in the community” [2].

Local groups representing over 3000 people have today written to Tesco asking them to respond to the Council’s plea by the end of the month.

Dear Sir Terry Leahy,

Stop taking over our towns and cities. Like communities across the country, we don’t want a Tesco on our high street.

Stokes Croft is Bristol’s cultural quarter with many independent, local traders. It’s distinctive, vibrant character is why people come to the area. A Tesco opening on Cheltenham Road will undermine the progress we have made. Your shop will not contribute to the local economy to the same extent local businesses do.

Over 2500 people in the local area have written to Bristol City Council saying we don’t want Tesco and the community must be consulted properly. Local traders believe the Tesco isn’t needed. Together, we have attempted to stop Tesco through the planning process but have found this heavily weighted in your favour.

Despite our invitations you have refused to meet with us. The Leader of Bristol City Council supports our attempts to stop you opening in Stokes Croft and is asking you to back down. If you have no intention of listening to the community and Leader of our Council please tell us by 30 April 2010

Yours sincerely,
No Tesco in Stokes Croft
People’s Republic of Stokes Croft
Bristol Food Hub
Transition Montpelier
Transition Bristol


[1] Letter to Terry Leahy, CEO of Tesco from Barbara Janke, Leader of Bristol City Council

Re: Former Jesters site, Cheltenham Rd, Bristol

Dear Mr Leahy,

You will no doubt know of the concerns we have about Tesco’s intention to open a store at the above site. We would like Stokes Croft to become a distinctive destination in Bristol and do not believe another chain store will help achieve this aim.

Tesco, we know, is proud of its pledge to “listen to people in the community from the moment we identify a site for a new store”. Tesco says it wants to “respond to suggestions and concerns people might have”.

We would like to take you at your word and seek assurances from you that you will consider backing down over your plans and allowing the site to be used by a community-owned alternative.

Some local groups feel very strongly that Tesco has failed to engage with them. They want to see the site used for something other than a supermarket. Will you meet them to discuss their ideas?

Yours sincerely,

Barbara Janke, Leader of Bristol City Council
Stephen Williams, Bristol West MP

[2] Tesco say: “We listen to people in the community from the moment we identify a site for a new store or an extension. We want to respond to suggestions and concerns people might have.” They bought the premises in December 2009 and the first contact they had with the local community was on 12 February 2010: a phone call from Michael Kissman to one of the campaign coordinators in response to a letter from the campaign requesting a meeting. After initially saying Tesco would meet with the campaign Michael has since made it clear Tesco will not meet with the local community groups in the area.

A survey of 500 local people shows that 96% of those surveyed believe Cheltenham Road does not need another supermarket.
Tesco have said on the radio people in Stokes Croft want a Tesco. They have refused to substantiate this claim.
Tesco have a track record of saying the community wants one of their stores even when the majority in the community clearly do not.

14 APRIL 2010

The following statement has been issued by Cllr Barbara Janke,  Leader of Bristol City Council, and Stephen Williams, MP for Bristol West 2005 – 2010 and Lib Dem candidate for the general Election.

“We support your campaign for Stokes Croft to become a distinctive destination in Bristol.  Yet another chain store doesn’t help achieve this aim.  The planning process needs reform so local people can shape their communities.  Supermarkets also need to be regulated.  But we can’t just have a campaign against Tesco at this site.  We need a viable alternative proposition.  That is why we are tonight calling on local residents and businesses, social enterprises, architects and anyone else with an alternative vision for this site to come forward. We hope this competition will spark local imagination but also attract national interest.  We want to work with the community to continue the transformation of Stokes Croft.”

Write to the Evening Post and other local media to express your concerns. Lots of letters have been published in the paper and the Evening Post want to hear from more of us.

Coverage so far

Please click the links below to download press releases in PDF format:
Bristol City Council can still say NO to Tesco in Stokes Croft (18 Mar)
Open Letter to Terry Leahy re tesco in Stokescroft
Stokes Croft Say NO to Tesco –
Five Tesco Are More Than Enough (12 Feb)

Today Radio 5 Live covered the NO Tesco in Stokes Croft campaign on their Breakfast show
Tesco claim that the local community welcomes a new Tesco store opening up in Stokes Croft (2.55 into the reording –
Listen again )
Michael Kissman, corporate affairs manager for Tesco is interviewed. He says that he has been in Stokes Croft over the last few weeks talking to local residents and businesses and that the reception has been remarkably positive overall. This is clearly untrue and an absolute outrage that Tesco have been able to say this uncontested – it makes a mockery of the overwhelming strength of our campaign.
Email or text in to the show to let them know what you think – let them know about the strength of opposition in the community.
Claire Milne from the NO Tesco in Stokes Croft campaign also debates the issues with Richard Dodd from the British Retail Consortium.
Claire says: “A Tesco is just simply not what we want – we’ve been very clear about this but we’re just not being listened to. We’re very clear what we do want, what we need in the area is a shop that’s going to provide us with healthy affordable food coming from local producers and provided by a local business that really does understand the community and can respond to our needs.”
Listen again (1.42 into the recording)
Coverage continues tomorrow

More media coverage
20 March
Full page letters focus
Evening Post

19 March
Call For Consultation Over Stokes Croft Tesco
Jack FM

17 March
Tesco challenge: can you shop in all 17 stores in one hour?
The Guardian

16 March
Protesters bury their arms in concrete to stop a city’s 18th new Tesco from being built
Claire Milne, 33, who lives in Stokes Croft, said she had received 2,000 postcards pledging support for the anti-Tesco campaign. She added: ‘People from all walks of life have been protesting through lots of different channels. We’ve been writing letters and working with the council but they say there’s nothing they can do.’
Daily Mail (print and online)
BBC News
Bristol Evening Post
Bristol Evening Post 2
Bristol 24/7

Protest Against New Tesco Closes Road In Bristol
Listen to vox pops from Local community
“It [the squatters eviction] raises the profile of the whole thing about Tesco taking over our food chain – they are in the position where they control everything from growing right through to eating and we cannot allow that to happen.”
“Everyone really cares about this place and no one wants to see it become just another corporate street”
Jack FM
Coverage also from:
BBC Radio Bristol
BBC Points West

11 March
Radio interviews focusing on the No Tesco in Stokes Croft campaign and fundraiser
Jack FM
BBC Radio Bristol

9 March
Bailiffs sent to evict Bristol squatters at Jesters Comedy Club
Bristol Evening Post
Bristol 24/7
Jack FMWe won’t let Tesco get Jesters Comedy Club without a fight
Evening PostStokes Croft protest against new Tesco
Bristol 24/7

8 March

20 Feb

15 Feb
‘Tesco plan for store at former Bristol comedy club is just not funny’
Evening Post

13 Feb
Demonstration against Tesco plans for Stokes Croft
BBC News
Jack FMCoverage also from:
BBC Radio Bristol
BBC Points West
Star FM
Itv westcountry

12 Feb
Tesco protesters need many voices to make light work
Bristol 24/7

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