Sherborne’s day of action to coincide with Tesco’s public consultation on 26th February 2013 has been an overwhelming success. Hundreds of business and shop owners joined forces with residents to show Tesco the strength of opinion against its plans to come to Sherborne.
Shops throughout the town centre closed for one hour from 2.30pm and many boarded up their windows, or made some other visible sign of protest in a demonstration of unity never before seen in the town.
Hundreds gathered in Cheap Street at 2.15pm and then marched to The Digby Hall, led by local resident and former Blue Peter presenter VALERIE SINGLETON. Many carried placards or printed images of what their shops might look like should a new out of town store create reduced footfall and a significant downturn in town centre trade, like this one from Cheap Street’s family-owned home and hardware shop, Abbey Decor:
Crowds were greeted at the hall by Paddy the pony in full ‘nothankstesco’ livery and by 3.40pm Tesco confirmed 709 people had already viewed the exhibition. Many were vocal in their disappointment that there were so few Tesco representatives available, no formal means of asking questions and so little detailed information to hand.
Canon Eric Woods made a welcome visit from Sherborne Abbey to support the campaign and was interviewed by top journalist Alex Renton, in town for the day writing a feature for The Times newspaper.
The Keep Sherborne Viable Group conducted its own exit poll on 26th February and, of those who agreed to record their opinion, 663 were against Tesco’s proposals and 43 were for (47 were undecided). This, along with its previous exit polls from The West End Hall on 15/16 February, proves an overwhelming majority of Sherborne businesses and residents are AGAINST the plans for a superstore on the site of The Sherborne Hotel.
Sherborne’s online and town PETITION has reached its 10,000 target in less than three months. This is the LARGEST town petition ever recorded against a supermarket (according to www.tescopoly.org). The petition has been signed by residents of Sherborne, surrounding villages and further afield and will continue to build momentum until Tesco submits its plans or withdraws.