Lost in a supermarket

The battle lines have been drawn in two local towns over plans to build new supermarkets. Both Hay-on-Wye and Ledbury are currently in the midst of hard debate, with plans to build the new supermarkets bringing out those both for and against.

In August of last year, Powys Council revealed plans to sell Hay-on-Wye Primary School to developers, which it is believed will pave the way for a new supermarket to be built on the site. As part of the sale agreement, the developer will have to build a new school and community centre, which the council says offers an opportunity for new facilities and services to be provided without cost to the taxpayer.

It has not taken long for fears over the planned new supermarket to surface. On 19th December, around 50 people attended a ‘flash mob’ protest at Powys Council Headquarters, where councillors were meeting to discuss plans to sell off the school site. Protesters used handheld torches to hold a ‘silent light display,’ but councillors used side entrances to avoid the demo. Campaigners gathered in the foyer instead.

Last night, the campaign group that has been organising against the supermarket plans, Plan B, held a public meeting at the school. The plans of the council and the developers were discussed, and attendees heard how a recent survey conducted by the Hay and District Chamber of Commerce revealed that nine out of ten traders in the town were concerned about the prospect of a new town centre supermarket.

In Ledbury, the campaign against a new supermarket has been going on for quite some time now. Last year, Ledbury Opposes Tesco Superstore was formed, opposing the application to build a new Tesco near the by-pass in the town. Petitions were started, posters were displayed in the windows of many high-street shops and a rally attracting over 100 people was held at the Market House when a Ledbury Town Council meeting was held to discuss the plans.

In November Tesco withdrew their application. However, Sainsburys had also entered the race, with plans to build a superstore and petrol station opposite the proposed location for the Tesco site. Opposition continued, and LOTS changed its name to Ledbury Opposes out of Town Superstores. They have stepped up their campaign against any superstores being built, arguing that they would take trade away from the town centre, and destroy the unique, independent character of the town. Recently, Local residents have received leaflets through their doors, and campaigners have been hitting the streets with information stalls, and raising signatures for their petition.

However, another development in the story has recently come about, with campaign group LESS – Ledbury Supports Superstores hitting the ground. LESS, like LOTS, have set up a website, had leaflets and placards printed, which are on display in some parts of the town, and have also raised 1,000 signatures for a petition in favour of the Sainsburys store to be built.

Both sides in the argument are firmly dug in, and both have arguments that will sound very convincing to a large number of people. On the one side, local and independent traders are facing a multi-national company moving onto their doorstep, which they argue will take their custom and change the unique character of the town. On the other, you have the argument that the building of the new store will create much-needed jobs for the town, and offer families cheaper goods and more convenience, at a time when nearly everybody is economising. With this in mind, it is a fair assumption that this battle will go on.

A council meeting to discuss the Sainsburys store application is due to be held on 2nd February at the Market House, Ledbury.

For more information, visit:

Ledbury Opposes out of Town Superstores website

Ledbury Supports Sainsbury’s website

Tesco Pull Ledbury Store Plans!

Only a day before the planning application was due to be decided, Tesco have decided to shelve their controversial plans for an out-of-town superstore in Ledbury.

Tesco, which already has a store in the town, applied for planning permission for another town near the town’s bypass back in July. However, opposition was hot on its heels, and the Ledbury Opposes Tesco Superstores campaign group was formed. The group received considerable support from local high street traders who argued that the new Tesco store would take away trade and destroy the town. Posters supporting LOTS can be seen across the town, thousands have signed petitions and over a hundred turned out to protest against the plans.

In August the tale took another twist, when Sainsburys applied to build another superstore next to the proposed Tesco location. LOTS changed it’s name to Ledbury Opposes Out of Town Superstores, and vowed to fight the plans.

You can see more on the LOTS website.

Ledbury Superstore Protest

Up to 150 people joined a protest against the planned Tesco superstore in Ledbury last Thursday (18th).

The large crowd gathered at the Market House in the town centre to hold a ‘silent lobby’ of a meeting by Ledbury Town Council. The newly renamed ‘Ledbury Opposes Out of Town Superstores’ protest group called the lobby with only a few hours notice.

Earlier last week Sainsbury’s announced plans to build another supermarket across the road from the planned Tesco store on Leadon Way.  Traders and some local residents argue that the planned store will take trade away from already struggling shops in the town centre.

Rich Hadley from LOTS, who oppose both planned superstores, said the group was “fighting for the soul” of the town.

Councillors voted in favour of holding an independent survey on the possible economic impact of the superstores, and also voted to hold a public meeting at which Sainsbury’s would face questioning from local residents.

To find out more about the campaign against the superstores, go to the LOTS facebook page.

Opposition To Tesco Superstore In Ledbury

Wherever Tesco goes there seems to be controversy, with numerous high-profile campaigns against its seemingly never-ending expansion. From Tenbury Wells to Stokes Croft in Bristol, local organisations have been lining up against the company, and Ledbury looks set to be the next battleground.

Tesco are planning to move their store in the town from its current site on Orchard Lane, to the site of Ledbury Welding on Leadon Way. Locals have raised concerns about the negative effect this may have on trade in the town.Rumour has it that the two-day consultation offered was merely used to pay lip service, with the company already committed to the plans.

An action group has already been formed, with a founding meeting held. Ledbury Opposes Tesco Superstore (LOTS) held its first meeting on Friday 3rd June, with around one hundred and fifty locals in attendance. They have said they are ready to fight a lengthy battle, with leafleting already underway and a Facebook page set up.

Many people oppose Tesco for many different reasons; the power this huge corporation yields, its negative effect on small and local businesses, its ability to steamroller plans over any and all opposition, its environmental impact, the sale of unethical products and so on. But one thing that almost all hold in common is the contempt shown to them by Tesco.

In August last year the news broke that Tesco were to turn the Game Cock pub in Hinton, Hereford into yet another convenience store. Over a hundred local residents turned out to a meeting against the plans; a petition was taken and there was a call to boycott Tesco in the city. Unfortunately the campaign against the store was not sustained and petered away.

We await further information on the Ledbury plans, but in the meantime we encourage as many people as possible to get involved in the campaign against it. The only way us small people can take on such a large company is through standing together and organising from the grassroots. By using a diverse range of tactics (from petitions to boycotts to pickets and more) we can also pack a powerful punch, and that is how such a campaign can be successful.

Ledbury ambulance station to close?

The future of Ledbury’s ambulance station seems unclear after staff say that it could be included in proposed cuts by West Midlands Ambulance Service.

Andy Kibble, an ambulance technician and representative of the public service union, UNISON, told a public meeting thatbosses were ‘seriously looking’ at closing the station. At the meeting to discuss the building of 800 new homes in the town, he said that Ledbury’s emergency medical coverage would have to be taken into serious consideration as the move would mean “playing chess with people’s lives.”

However, a spokesperson for West Midlands Ambulance Service said that talk of closure was not true and that they were simply looking at ‘changing location’ of the station.

Three years ago ambulance stations in Ledbury and Ross-on-Wye were considered for closure, but after huge public and union opposition the plans were scrapped. Cuts to emergency and health care services mirror those currently happening elsewhere, resulting in job losses, and seriously threatening the well-being and safety of the public. We will have to wait and see whether this closure is to go ahead, but we will be ready to stand up and defend our emergency services if anything is to happen.