Is it right to battle Tesco?

PROTESTERS who have been fighting a long battle to keep Tesco out of Hadleigh must be feeling pretty good about life this week after the news that a similar application by the supermarket giant in north Norfolk had been turned down on appeal.

PROTESTERS who have been fighting a long battle to keep Tesco out of Hadleigh must be feeling pretty good about life this week after the news that a similar application by the supermarket giant in north Norfolk had been turned down on appeal.

A government inspector decided against Tesco's application to build a medium-sized store in the resort of Sheringham, partly because of the impact it would have on the town centre.

That will be seen by protesters in Hadleigh, as well as in other towns across the area like Manningtree and Halesworth, as a clear sign that the goalposts have changed in the battle against the retail giants.

Until now the impact on other businesses was not supposed to be considered as a planning issue - but I can see that it is something that should be considered when a decision like this is taken.

However, I'm not one of those rejoicing at the news from Sheringham, and if this is to be regarded as a precedent for other towns like Hadleigh, then I'm not convinced it will do them much good in the long term.

I know Sheringham, it is a resort I visit regularly - its steam railway and beach makes it something of a honeypot during the summer.

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I like the shops in the town, I've bought sandwiches or a snack there and it has a couple of very good fish and chip shops where you can buy a takeaway to eat on the sea wall.

I have no reason to want to go to a supermarket in Sheringham, or for that matter in Hadleigh - but if I lived in one of those towns might I not feel differently?

Independent surveys have shown that residents of both towns are split down the middle - if anything a majority of people living there would welcome the competition that a Tesco would provide.

It's a myth that people in Hadleigh all shop in the small stores in the town centre - they head off to Tescos at Copdock or Morrisons in Sproughton Road in their thousands every week.

A Tesco in Hadleigh would cut down on the 20-mile round trips that people are prepared to make to get their groceries.

And is it really right for stores in Hadleigh to be able to continue to charge higher prices because they don't have the competition? The higher prices really hit those who are not able to make the journey to the superstores in Ipswich or Sudbury.

It does worry me that in the battle over supermarkets it is those who can afford deli prices at the specialist shops that are making all the running in the arguments.

Those who aren't able to afford these prices sometimes have difficulty in making their voices heard.

Although, of course, in Hadleigh both sides have had their say time and again over the years.

I suspect that the argument will never be finished in Hadleigh until the day Tescos opens in the high street . . . or the site they are looking at is developed for something else like a refugee detention centre or a nuclear power station!

I'M sorry to come back to my old soapbox subject, but I can't let the latest letter on the subject of speed cameras pass without comment.

H Williams from Ranelagh Road once again peddles the myth that speed cameras don't save lives, and that they are only there to raise tax revenue for the government.

On the first point, there is massive statistical evidence that cameras DO save lives. Why did the number of fatal and serious accidents on the A14 and A140 fall dramatically after cameras were installed? Why has this been repeated across the country - I'm sorry that cannot be a statistically anomaly.

And if the government's revenues are subsidised by the fines paid by law-breakers who get caught by speed cameras, isn't that a good thing? It means the government is getting less from us law abiding motorists who somehow manage to drive within the speed limits.

But the most ludicrous line in the letter was the reference to people who “accidentally break the speed limit”.

That's a bit like talking about someone who accidentally stabs someone to death or accidentally steals thousands of pounds.

The fact is someone who “accidentally breaks the speed limit” clearly isn't paying enough attention to their driving and has no right to be on the road in the first place!

WE'RE all human - even us journalists can make a mistake!

And one person who has been on the receiving end of our errors twice over the last year has been Billy Brennan, the borough's head of leisure and culture.

Twice we've described him as a councillor when in fact he's a very senior council officer - and anyone in the office will tell you that there's a world of difference between those two roles!

Thank heavens Billy is the kind of chap who finds this kind of confusion very amusing!

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