Felixstowe: Public meeting called as Tesco protest campaign launched

FELIXSTOWE: Protesters are today stepping up their campaign against controversial proposals for a multi-million pound new Tesco superstore amid fears that it could force the closure of many shops.

Town centre residents and traders, and residents and shopkeepers in Walton, are joining forces to voice their concerns over the Walton Green project.

A public meeting is to be held next week to discuss the plans – and expert Lady Cranbrook has been invited to speak at the event.

Mary Wyatt, of the Felixstowe Town Centre Residents’ Association, said: “There are many issues which need to be looked at but there is great concern over the impact a big Tesco will have on both Walton High Street and the shops in the town centre.

“Yes, Tesco will bring jobs, but if other shops then close we will not make big job gains and our town centre will never be the same.”

In recent weeks eight shops have closed or announced they are shutting, and a question marks hangs over the future of two others.

Mrs Wyatt said many people did not believe Felixstowe needed yet another supermarket – the town already has a large Morrisons, Co-op, Lidl, Iceland, Tesco and a food hall in Marks and Spencer – and were worried about the threat it posed.

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Felixstowe Chamber of Trade has voiced serious concerns about building a new Tesco in Walton High Street and claims it will destroy jobs and force shops to close.

“There is a real prospect that those businesses will close at the expense of jobs within the town and the chamber is therefore concerned that there will be no new jobs overall and a change in the nature of the jobs which are available from full-time work to part-time work,” said chamber chairman Andrew Rowdon.

Expert Lady Cranbrook, who has carried out extensive research and campaign work in relation to Tesco and the impact of edge-of-town superstores on town centres, will speak at the event at Trinity Methodist Church, Hamilton Road, on Tuesday January 31 at 7.30pm.

Mrs Wyatt and Mr Rowdon will also be speaking.

The Walton Green Partnership held an exhibition to explain its proposals before Christmas and says it is now analysing the 700-plus comments it received and using the feedback to put together detailed proposals for the site.

These plans – which will include around 200 homes, offices and community facilities as well as Tesco – will be unveiled at another exhibition with planning permission then sought in the spring. The partnership says most people who will use the store will be people who already travel out of town to Tesco at Martlesham.

 

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