Happy New Year to everyone who has supported our nothankstesco campaign so far. This is our first update of 2013 but we suspect there will be many more to come as we learn more about plans for the proposed Tesco store at the site of The Sherborne Hotel.
Since our last update there have been many achievements – plus of course we have all had Christmas and New Year to enjoy. Many more people and organisations have now come on board with the campaign too, which will help strengthen our position when the actual consultation stage begins.
Please remember, we are all volunteers behind the campaign – most of us with businesses or jobs and all with families and other commitments. We’re building resources as we go along in order to be in a strong position to put your case forward when the time comes. Thank you to all of you who have offered professional services or hands-on help via the website – we are keeping a log of everyone who has come forward and as the campaign moves on we will definitely be in touch!
Here are some key bits of news you might be interested in:
There has been speculation that Tesco has already bought the land at The Sherborne Hotel. We can confirm that Tesco plc made an ‘Agreement for Sale & Purchase’ with the land proprietors on 10th July 2012: this is usual practice for Tesco (and other companies) – it gives them first option to buy the site IF they receive planning permission.
Tesco also placed a restrictive charge on the Land Register on 15th August 2012, preventing disposition without their permission. In case you wonder how we have come about that information, The Land Registry documents are publicly available at http://www.landregistry.gov.uk/ for the payment of a £3 fee.
Of course we would all rather Tesco was not in this position of strength, and it is interesting they chose a week before Christmas to issue their press release with the news, but this Agreement is worthless WITHOUT planning permission.
At the point of this update our ONLINE petition has generated 1880 signatures. Most of these have also kindly supplied email addresses (though not compulsory) and added very useful comments too. We are now able to issue our first online NEWSLETTER to all of those who have given their email contacts and we hope this will be a valuable way to keep you all up to date as the situation develops regarding the planning application. If you want to add your name to our mailing list you can do it at www.nothankstesco.co.uk – although if you have already given your email on the petition this is not necessary.
Our PAPER petition is also gathering strength in the town and further afield. We can only estimate on signatures for that at the moment but it is definitely already in the thousands. Countless shops and businesses have petition sign-up forms on their counters; Sherborne Golf Club is a petition point too as will be Castle Gardens.
If you would like to start a petition point at your office/workplace/school/nursery or club then just visit our resources page at www.nothankstesco.co.uk/downloads where you will find everything you need to get going.
We hope to widen the petition to other households unable to sign-up online – if you are able to help with gathering petitions door to door or can help with leaflet distribution in the future, please get in touch by dropping us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have set ourselves a target of 10,000 petition sign-ups – to represent the population of Sherborne. This is a big target (the Costa Coffee petition raised 4000 paper signatures). However, to have generated more than 4000 sign-ups in just THREE WEEKS is incredible, so we are confident we can achieve this and when we do it will be a great PR opportunity for the town.
PLANNING & LETTERS OF OBJECTION
A point we’d like to make early on is that although progress with our PETITION is fantastic, it is just the start of a bigger task. A petition demonstrates the mood of the town and gives a clear indication to our Council representatives (and Tesco!) about how we feel. However… it is the personal letters of objection at the planning and consultation stage which really makes a difference to the decision-making progress. Through our newsletters we will help you, when the time is right, to submit your personal letters of objection. The Sherborne & District Society which is a local group of the CPRE (Campaign for the Protection of Rural England), who have significant experience with planning, will help us be more effective with this part of the campaign – you can visit the local Dorset CPRE website HERE.
We have no campaign budget and any incidental costs so far have been met by individual in-kind donations. We hope to have a small budget in the future for printing at which stage we will be able to reach more local people who do not have access to the internet with information leaflets, updates and assistance with personal objections.
To make sure you are included in future information updates sign up to our newsletter at www.nothankstesco.co.uk – or keep an eye on our website updates.
TWITTER & SOCIAL MEDIA
We appreciate not all of you are social media fans! However, there is a great deal of very interesting chat and exchange of information that goes on at our twitter page @nothankstesco. It’s free and easy to sign up for Twitter and we are actually finding it more successful than facebook at the moment. Unfortunately SOME people have taken advantage of our facebook page to leave less than respectful comments – we are doing our best to deal with this but do not really want to close down the page because of the behaviour of a few. Those who abuse the page only let themselves down and for our part we always try to put our point across in a rational and polite way.
Some notable twitter contributors in the past couple of weeks include Telegraph Magazine columnist Kate Shapland, Author and food journalist Fiona Beckett, The UK’s leading trade association for food retailers and producers – The Guild of Fine Food and a growing number of local Sherborne businesses.
YEOVIL CHAMBER OF TRADE & COMMERCE
We were contacted before Christmas by Yeovil Chamber of Trade & Commerce who wanted to lend their support to our campaign. This is an interesting development and we very much welcome that they have asked their own members to get behind us. If you read their statement about it HERE which was published in local press you will see that Yeovil businesses are feeling the pressure of having so many large stores on their doorstep, which has made high street trading very difficult.
Likewise, our own Sherborne Chamber of Trade & Commerce issued a statement to all their members which you can read in full HERE. This is an excerpt of what they had to say:
“The prominence of the position creates the first impression for visitors to Sherborne. The template of a Tesco store befits a retail park. The site is the gateway to Sherborne and to Dorset. Is this how you want your town to be signposted and remembered?
The sheer size of the company means that they are able to shoulder financial losses and use their influence; this has implications for every community in which they build – on the economy, the tourism, the local traders and producers, amongst others. Their mission statement is to ‘create value’. We must each ask, for whom?
Some of you may embrace the change for a variety of reasons – convenience, jobs or cost. Think in hindsight. Look at other developments by Tesco in historic market towns. How many can you think of where the local residents regret the development, and do they wish, if only…”
ANOTHER UK TOWN LOSES THEIR FIGHT
We have also followed with interest the story of the UK’s famous seaside town, Aldeburgh, which just this week lost its fight against Tesco opening in the town. The final decision came down to a vote of 5 Councillors against 4 and we find it concerning that the wishes of local people were ultimately denied by the opinion of just one person. Aldeburgh’s story is quite different to Sherborne’s but if you would like to learn more about it read the Telegraph feature published in advance of the final outcome being known.
On a positive note, the organisers of the campaign for Aldeburgh have been in touch with us and given us their support – mentioning our campaign to all their twitter followers.
A REMINDER OF WHY WE’RE DOING THIS
We think it’s timely to remind everyone that this campaign is NOT just about Tesco (strange as that may seem!). We do not believe ANY supermarket would be suitable at the proposed site for all the reasons given in our Petition Statement.
Many people have asked whether there would be such a campaign if Waitrose or M&S had wanted to build there. Well the simple answer to that is YES there would – the site of The Sherborne Hotel needs to be kept ideally for a bigger, better hotel that can service our town’s tourism, business and social needs. If that is not possible then very careful consideration would be needed for an alternative project but a supermarket of any type would definitely be detrimental to our existing town centre businesses; to the fabric of what makes Sherborne a special place to live and work and completely inappropriate positioned at the gateway to historic Sherborne and Dorset.
OUR COMMUNITY MATTERS TO US
Regretfully, some Pro-Tesco supporters have attempted to create division by suggesting our campaign is a social class issue or that only ‘Sherborne born & bred’ should have a say in the decision-making process. We have thought carefully before mentioning this but it has become a theme on some social media sites and we feel we need to make our point clear. We strongly support Sherborne’s diverse and friendly community and it would be very sad indeed if this campaign inadvertently caused a rift between those for and against the development – that division will certainly never come from our side.
We acknowledge Sherborne’s high street does not meet the needs of everyone and that there are gaps in what is on offer for day to day needs. We also absolutely respect that many people will welcome Tesco to the town and that it is their preferred supermarket already. However, Yeovil DOES have everything to offer in terms of high street chains, supermarkets (including Tesco) and home stores should people want them – it’s only 5 miles along the dual carriageway and many of the larger stores offer home delivery too.
We hope that in the course of time a decision will be made which is in the best interests of everyone who enjoys calling Sherborne ‘home’ and that we have an even stronger community at the end of it.
We will keep building online momentum and as budgets permit we will advertise the campaign to more people who do not have access to the internet. We are now awaiting the next stage which is when Tesco submits their plans and consultation begins. At that point we will be asking you ALL to please ramp up your support by attending any public meetings and making your written objections. We will help you all we can and keep you informed at every stage as we have more details.
If you want to get in touch with an offer of professional or personal help, or for more information on any aspect of the campaign please get in touch HERE
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