On 20th July the Tesco application was passed by the councillors of Central Bedfordshire Planning Committee by 12 votes to 4
We were very disappointed that the money offered by Tesco formed a significant part of the discussion and seemed from the discussion to be a reason why many councillors supported the application.
Tesco will give money for a town centre manager, however, about four years ago Leighton Buzzard used to have a town centre manager and most of the local shop keepers were not even aware of that. It took volunteers to produce the first directory of local shops.
According to some Leighton Buzzard councillors only 10% of the population were against the Tesco expansion with the implication that the rest of Leighton Buzzard were in favour.
We are taking legal advice on whether we have a case for judicial review of the decision, as planning issues that we raised in our independent expert report were not even discussed by councillors at the meeting.
21st July 2011
Report on the Tesco extension by 15/07/11
Trouble with Tesco
Please write to Andrew Selous MP to support this amendment
by Colin Ashby
We say that we need a bigger range of shops in Leighton Buzzard town centre such as M&S. I love LB carried out surveys in 2007 & 2009 which showed that many people want a bigger range of shops in the town, especially clothes shops.
We have a real chance of this happening soon. Central Bedfordshire have drawn up plans for redeveloping the South Side of the High Street for more shops and have been talking to shops such as Marks and Spencer. These could really help the town. Visit Central Beds website or see the plans at the library.
Destroying Leighton Buzzard Town Centre
The Tesco expansion could stop the chance of good shops coming to LB. Tesco could really damage the town centre by causing shops to close down and make it an unattractive place for shops such as Next and M&S to invest.
Tesco will give a wide range of items such as clothes, electrical goods etc, but it will not give any real choice in any of these and especially with clothes it does not fulfil what people want. Tesco admits in its application that 'the Tesco (clothing) offer is more limited and is at the lower end rather than middle to high end fashion'.
Obviously MK has a huge range of shops and people will want go there, but we need a ‘good-enough range’ so that you can buy a smart outfit or children’s clothes without having no option than to make the 25 mile trip to MK.
If Tesco goes ahead we risk losing many of our local shops, losing the chance of getting really good shops into the town centre and will end up with far less choice shopping in Leighton Buzzard. Additionally we will have very large travel costs as we will have to go to Milton Keynes every time we need DIY equipment or a new outfit etc.
Tesco Expansion has caused many high shops to close down in other towns:
Already just this year 2011, two Tesco applications have been turned down by their councils in Great Shelford, Cambridge, and Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire. Last year 28 Tesco applications including; Stoke on Trent, Oxford, Bristol, Hampshire, Brighton, Essex etc, have been turned down and in many cases when it has gone to appeal the government has backed the council.
The Retail Planning forum (funded by supermarkets) suggests that 276 jobs are lost with the opening of a supermarket. Around £50,000 of turnover is needed for a member of staff for an independent shop and £95,000 of turnover for a member of staff for a supermarket.
Walmart Watch say for every 20 jobs created for a supermarket 30 jobs are lost in the area.
FSB (The Federation of Small Businesses) says 50% of the money taken in independent shops and businesses is kept in the local community. According to the New Economics Foundation, Halfords, Boots and Argos have over 15% of their turnover kept in community, whereas Tesco has only 8.3%. Most of this 8.3% comes from wages and rates. The big firms will usually get a national firm to do repairs, refits etc whereas local shop will usually use local business, so local shops support local businesses.