CONTROVERSIAL: The new Tesco store in Braunton which opens in a week's time. Picture: Mike Southon 0809-203_03
IT'S ACTUALLY happening— the new Tesco store in Braunton will finally open its doors on Monday, in the heart of a community, the majority of whom appear to be still wholeheartedly against the move.
So on the eve of what could turn out to be blue Monday for the village, the
asked Brauntonians their real opinions.
Cllr Roy Lucas Chairman of North Devon Council said: "I was one of the most outspoken protesters at the onset against Tesco plans to site a store here in Braunton.
"The plans were passed and as a councillor at that time I was not permitted to voice an opinion, or to sit on the planning committee, or be on the site visit at Braunton — I was actually kicked off site.
Cllr Lucas added: "I, through the offices of the Devon Chamber of Commerce, have been trying to have a meeting with the powers at Tesco, and have been turned down flatly.
"They will not talk to parish councillors or North Devon councillors regarding anything — 'get lost' seems to be their attitude."
Braunton wildlife expert Mary Breeds said: "It is too close to the important landscape of the buffer zone of the Biosphere Reserve, for instance, Braunton Marsh and Great Field.
"It would have been better to have had one Tesco at Mullacott Industrial Estate. That could have served a wider area rather than one in Ilfracombe and one in Braunton.
Phil Bridges, head of marketing at Braunton-based Tiki International, which is only metres from the new store said: "You can't blame Tesco for wanting to expand their empire. They are a business; it's what businesses exist for. However, you can wonder what the hell the parish and local council were thinking by allowing the development and simultaneously making the free car park a pay and display car park, thereby discouraging what little trade would have been left in the village centre.
Julian Turner, landlord at The Aggi, in Braunton said: "As a pub landlord I am against the new Tesco, and fear for the impact it may have on our vibrant village. Tesco and other multiple stores have a 'pile it high, sell it cheap' attitude to alcohol. That would be labelled irresponsible if I or any of the other pubs in the village tried to copy.
"It's very hard to persuade our regulars to come out in the cold and wet and pay nigh on £3 for a pint when they can stay at home with a case of cheap lager for about a tenner, especially if they can have a fag at the same time."
What impact do you think it will have on the village?
Phil Bridges of Tiki said: "It'll out-compete all vendors selling similar products— local shops will have to evolve, hopefully for the better.
Keith West, who has a part-time stock control job at the new store said: "Of course it will have an effect on the village. Some people will not shop there, out of loyalty to other supermarkets and shops in the village."
Mary Breeds said: "I feel it will have a negative effect on Braunton, taking people away from the heart of the village and increasing traffic down residential streets such as South Street. There will also be the delivery lorries clogging up the roads to and from the store. It is suburbanising Braunton too much."
Do you think the new Tesco will affect trade in the village?
Cllr Lucas said:
"They will undermine the viability of the shops in the village so it will become a surfing fraternity and charity domain.
"The village will die if we are not careful, so it is up to us all to pull together and make something of the village. I hope the village will not die, we must chase government to curb the growth of the giants.
Mary Breeds said: " It will inevitably affect the trade of a range of existing shops but to what degree remains to be seen. However, if some people do their weekly shop at Braunton Tesco as opposed to a trip to Barnstaple Tesco and use the other local shops for everyday needs, then it may not be too bad."
Phil Bridges of Tiki said: "Of course Tesco know their stuff and do their research. There is a finite amount of shopping that needs to be done by local people and visitors. Tesco intend to take the major share of this shopping. If that happens, which is inevitable, the local shops will lose their share."
Keith West said: "It is not visible from the village, so if locals and holiday makers wish to use it, they will have to seek it out, unlike the highly visible shops they pass on their way through the village. People are entitled to their own opinion about the march of the multiples.
Will you shop at the new Tesco?
Phil Bridges of Tiki said: "Probably. I would love to take a principled view and boycott the store, but I can't afford to."
Keith West said: "I know for a fact that many Braunton locals already shop at Tesco in Ilfracombe or Barnstaple. It will bring a choice to Braunton. People can make their own minds up whether they wish to shop there. Many Brauntonians are looking forward to having a Tescos on their own doorstep. Some, are vehemently against it. It's your choice."
Cllr Lucas said: "Yes I will shop at Tesco, I have a Tesco card but I still love this village. But if I get grief from the store or its staff, I will depart and never darken its doors again, as I will with any company."
Bridget Oliver said: "I will try not to shop at the new Tesco, although it will be tempting as Somerfield stock a very limited range, and even then the shelves are often empty, and Cawthornes, although my store of choice in principle, is expensive."
Mary Breeds said: "Yes, if it's here I'll probably use it sometimes, especially for heavier items."
Julian Turner said: "As much as we wail and gnash our teeth at the coming of such a big retail giant, we are all weak and will end up spending our money there.
"It is well documented how one of the most vociferous opponents of the Ilfracombe Tesco, a prominent high street shop owner, was spotted with his trolley filled high in there after just a few weeks.
"At the end of the day money talks, and if Tesco can sell something cheaper, we will buy it."
Christine Westlake, Braunton guide leader said: "I will still shop at the local shops in the village for my meat and vegetables, but will use the Braunton Tesco instead of the Barnstaple one for my big shops."
● Tesco spokesman Melanie Chiswell said: "We're delighted to come to the town, and we're looking forward to being part of a lively local shopping community, and meeting all of our new customers at the opening."