BELSIZE PARK CALLS ON TESCO NOT TO OPEN AN EXPRESS IN BELSIZE PARK
Please act now by signing our petition by clicking here.
You can view our current signatures by clicking here.
Thanks to those who attended the public meeting. If you didn’t make it, here is a 12 minute summary:
What can you do too help?
- Sign the petition below.
- Tesco have asked for our opinions as residents – please e-mail them to give your view: firstname.lastname@example.org, cc to the CEO Dave.Lewis@uk.tesco.com.
- Attend deputation to the Council Meeting at 7pm on Monday Jan 25 at Camden Town Hall in Judd Street.
TO: CHAIR OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF TESCO PLC, HSBC PLC AND CAMDEN COUNCIL, AND BARRY AND NAOMI ACKERMAN, THE DIRECTORS OF KINGSTAR UK LTD, (THE FREEHOLDER)
The residents of Belsize Park have come together to help Tesco to realise that it is not wanted on Haverstock Hill. The depth of feeling in the local community is such that they are strongly objecting to the plans of Tesco to open in their village. They want to help Tesco to make the right investment decision for their business and their shareholders and to avoid opening a store in an area where they are not wanted, which may impact on the return on their investment. We call on Tesco to abandon their plans for Belsize and to operate as a responsible and ethical business by enabling us to preserve our local community in a sustainable way.
This stretch of Haverstock Hill is a shopping parade opposite Belsize Park tube station. All shop units are currently occupied and we already have three independent food retailers Thornton’s Budgens, Londis and Pomona. The area is well served by local retailers, there are two Tesco Expresses at either end of Belsize Park in England’s Lane and Hampstead High Street. There are bigger supermarkets from Morrison’s in Chalk Farm and Sainsbury’s and Waitrose in Finchley Road, to a Marks and Spencer in South End Green. We do not need another Tesco Express.
Tesco have been planning their approach to opening in the former HSBC site since July, and chose to make their application for an alcohol licence for the site on Saturday December 20, knowing full well that people would be away from the area for a fair amount of the 4 week consultation period.
Local residents object fiercely to the arrival of Tesco for a number of reasons:
- We already have three independent food retailers in Haverstock Hill – Londis, Pomona and Thornton’s Budgens. They have served us well for years and their viability is threatened by the arrival of Tesco. Londis have stated that if Tesco opens they will close.
- These independent stores support the local community and provide a familiar friendly service. It is widely recognised that small independent shops make up the heart of a thriving community. The importance of this cannot be underestimated for people who are less mobile, such as the elderly. For example, Thornton’s Budgens provides a free home delivery service which is a valuable service to the elderly, many of whom are not on the Internet.
- Tesco has a much more limited view of its community role than do independent shops. It is unlikely to take a proactive role in activities that are not seen to be profit-making in the long term.
- The site of the former HSBC bank is unsuitable for a food store as there is no loading bay. To make deliveries with their articulated trucks (as they do to other Express sites in the area), they will need to flout parking regulations as they do elsewhere. In West Hampstead in 2013, Tesco incurred £13,000 worth of parking fines and they continue to break the law on a daily basis there, in Hampstead High Street and in Express sites throughout the UK. This is hardly the behaviour of the good community minded business that we want to welcome to Belsize Park.
- The rent Tesco is paying for the site is more than two and a half times greater than the current going rate. Given the rent review system in the UK, this means all other retailers in the area (and not just this stretch of Haverstock Hill) will end up having much higher rents. Hence, the viability of all retailers in the area (especially independents) will be threatened in the long term. This happened in Hampstead with mobile phone shops and there are now a growing number of vacant sites.
- If the arrival of Tesco leads to Londis and other food retailers closing and rents increasing, the only retailers who will be able to afford the rents are other chains. This stretch of Haverstock Hill has a unique character which will be destroyed if the area becomes entirely populated with chain stores. As in the case of Hampstead, if these chains then decide they no longer want to be here, we will be left with numbers of empty stores.
- The loss of these independent local shops mean that social contact will be reduced.
- After a 6 year campaign, the Belsize Park Post Office returned to a new site in Thornton’s Budgens. They give valuable space to the Post Office which does not produce a commercial return. Were the viability of Thornton’s Budgens to be threatened, our local Post Office would also be threatened.
- Food miles will increase with potentially devastating impact on climate change with an inflation of CO2 emissions arising from more lorries arriving to bring supplies to Tesco in this area. The independent food retailers in Belsize Park support much more local businesses, meaning that more of every £1 spent stays in the area.
- The new CEO of Tesco stated in an e-mail to staff when he joined that: “Turning our business around will require change in our culture … We want to work in a business which is open, transparent, fair and honest.” Their approach to Belsize Park in submitting the application on the eve of Christmas and agreeing to pay such a high rent is far from ‘open, transparent, fair and honest’. Mr Lewis, your aspirations are laudable and if you want to live up to them, listen to the residents of Belsize Park and stay away – you are not wanted.
Why are residents responding in this way?
The government has empowered the local people to take more of an interest and to make their voices heard in relation to what is going on on their high street. It affects our lives and we have a right to have an opinion on what landlords plan to do with shops in our midst.
Despite this being announced over the Christmas break, many local groups in Belsize have mobilised in light of this threat. They see the imminent arrival of Tesco as the catalyst for action to prevent further decay and decline which will impact on their community.
We invite you to join them as comrades and to lend your voice to their struggle. We hope that in this new era of local power, Tesco will heed our views and leave Belsize Park to retain its independent character.
If you agree with the text of this petition, please sign it and forward it to anyone else you think may be interested.
I will be delivering this petition to Camden Council on the evening on Monday 26 January, and to the Chair of the Board of Tesco plc and other named parties that same week .
This poll will close on Sunday Jan 25. Please pass the link to others to sign.
Stop Tesco Coming to Belsize Campaign
To contact us: Belsizesayno@gmail.com
Please act now by signing our petition by clicking here.