Opinion - Mark Mansbridge, supermarket boycotter

Tesco opened a huge store in Shaftesbury, Dorset last year and I've watched as shops and businesses I knew as a kid down there have collapsed one by one. Somerfield had already built on the cattle market, turning the heart of the town into a car park. Goodbye then to The Sport-e-quip, Mr. Anstee's Bakery and Hall and Woodhouse offie and hello to ‘lifestyle’ shops selling overpriced cappuccinos and garden nick-nacks to the weekend cottage people. Lewes shops have managed to withstand having two supermarkets as the greedy cuckoos in the nest, but now Tesco proposes expansion into ‘other areas of retail’. They dangle a ’50 jobs’ carrot*, but how many real jobs will be knocked out in the wave of closures as local independents inevitably go under? Ten years ago Common Cause hosted the Sustainable Lewes Conference addressed by Charles Secrett and other local visionaries and this helped to establish local food initiatives like the Farmers Market, Just Trade and the Veg Box schemes. Meeting local needs locally provides affordable accountable food, the opposite of over-packaged and over-travelled supermarket food.

I gave up supermarkets a year ago and found the speed and cost arguments to be a myth. This is a small town for Christ’s sake and we want to do things slowly anyway! Whilst shoppers are getting tetchy in the checkout queue, waiting to be served by a stressed minimum waged teenager, I'm having a great time gossiping with Sue at May's Stores or admiring Bill's monumental veg displays.

*That'll be a standard sized straight carrot of course.

Tescopoly: a supersize Tesco will spell the end for many
local businesses