Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tesco should not move into Mill Road

Despite the Cambridge Evening News spelling my name wrong in last night's edition I'm going to pass over the humiliation and keep up the campaign to make Mill Road a Tesco free zone. We've had hundreds sign the petition, dozens of shops putting up posters and hundreds, if not thousands of leaflets have been distributed in the streets, door to door and from shop counters.

Of course the other weird thing about the CEN was that in the second para of the item they mentioned the facebook campaign group I set up last week... I felt quite chuffed about that!

Mill Road has a unique character. Its diversity and charm come from the fact that its retailers are overwhelmingly small and locally owned. When you're walking down Mill Road there is no other place you could possibly be due to the idiosyncrasy and individuality of the place.

Contrast that with Tesco, who currently dominate 30% of the national grocery market and, together with fellow big players, have driven small businesses to the wall the length and breadth of the country. In the process they have homogenised our towns, turning them into identikit places with no character and no soul.

Mill Road is one of those last remaining places that are as yet resisting that trend, if not entirely untouched by it. Tesco see a street where they aren't making money and are morally offended by the idea. They cannot, they will not stop until they own the lot, until everyone in the country owns a little card that says we are loyal to the corporation - this cannot be good for us.

But the process itself, of fighting to reclaim your streets, is something worth having in and of itself. The out pouring of fierce pride people feel for this area is a joy to behold and by drawing a line in the sand like this we are not just resisting something bad, we are actively creating something good.

There is a sense of community spirit that was lying just beneath the surface. An active solidarity where people are coming together in defiance of the largest corporate monster in the land, and the evidence is that small communities can be giant killers. Hundreds of anti-Tesco campaigns exist up and down the country, defending the nooks and crannies which have not as yet been branded to death. There's a national movement if only we knew it, and sometimes they win.

These stores represent not just a threat to the local economy but are also the slow death of authentic life. As Mark Steel said in his column in the Independent a little while ago "People are lured by cheapness and convenience, but then they pay for that by spending their time there in a vegetative trance, staring aimlessly into the despotic white light"

Tesco can't give us a boost to our living standards but it can be a severe detriment to our quality of life. It seems to me that we should resist the sanitised, suffocating horror that is Tesco and that unity between residents and local traders that is already in evidence is just the force to not just fight but win.


neil h said...

I think that you might appreciate this video :-)

Barkingside21 said...

Good luck, sir.

Sounds like the sort of place Barkingside High Street was before T*s*o arrived.

Anonymous said...

There is now a main website at:

Rupert said...

Check out our highly-successful Norwich anti-Tesco campaign. This has, admittedly, been hugely-aided by having Green Councillors able to be a key part of it:

Anonymous said...

You people are a bunch of middle-class bastards, who just want everything to stay as you like it. Bugger anyone else. Long live Tesco.