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BBC Radio documentary features Emlyn’s supermarket dispute

Review of the Radio 4 “The Report” Programme 19th May 2011

For those of you who missed Thursday’s edition of The Report on BBC Radio 4, you can listen to the programme by clicking the player below

clicking on this link

The programme itself is only half an hour long, and much of it is devoted to the recent protests against Tesco in Bristol. Newcastle Emlyn features briefly, with an excellent interview given by Debbie of The Carrot Cruncher, as well as Kevin Davies.

As this is the BBC, the programme is careful to strike a balance between the differing views, but some things stand out.

  • Tesco claims that it engages and consults with local communities before opening stores, but it became clear that in Bristol no such dialogue had taken place, with Tesco’s planning application being submitted through a third party so that not even the local council was aware of the identity of the store intending to operate the site. As the programme pointed out, Mr Davies is remaining tight-lipped about which supermarket, if any, is interested in the Cawdor site.
  • Tesco had been criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority in another location for claiming overwhelming support for a particular development when in fact only 8% of those responding to a survey had spoken in favour of a new Tesco.
  • A professor was interviewed who had produced an “independent” report on the impact of supermarkets. He turned out to have been in the pay of Tesco, and unsurprisingly his conclusions coincided closely with the arguments put forward by Tesco and other big supermarket groups in favour of expansion.
  • In his interview, Mr Davies praised his hotel and said that he would not have invested so much in the project if he had wanted to damage the town. He dismissed arguments made by the reporter that a new supermarket could undermine local businesses by saying that if they were so vulnerable, perhaps they were not very good businesses in the first place.

Perhaps the most important point to come across was that the supermarkets are involved in a massive expansion across Britain, and that increasingly people are beginning to worry about the consequences, and question whether we need more and more of them.

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Newcastle Emlyn will be one of the communities to be featured in a BBC Radio 4 documentary called “The Report“. The programme, which is due to be broadcast on Radio 4 on Thursday, 19 May at 8pm, looks at public opposition to the building of ever more supermarkets in our towns and cities. A number of local people were interviewed for the programme, including Kevin Davies who is aiming to bring one of the major supermarket groups into the site currently occupied by Cawdor Cars and the public car park.

Our correspondent writes:

“Mr Davies’s planning application has been pending for almost 18 months now, and has apparently been held up by consultation with various public bodies who are understood to be concerned with a number of aspects of the controversial plan, including road safety and traffic congestion, the impact of the development in a very sensitive and special natural environment, drainage and the need for a massive amount of pile driving to shore up and stabilise the site.

“Mr Davies and his agents have responded to some of these concerns in recent months, and have assured the council that although the supermarket would bring more people (and presumably HGV’s) into town, there would in fact be almost no increase in road traffic. Although the site would be used by many more people than at present, the good news is that the load on the town’s struggling sewage system would in fact be reduced. It is also a relief to note that despite the need for around 100 piles to be driven to stabilise the site, nearby residents will not notice any vibration.

“Rumours abound that whichever supermarket might take over the site could be planning to provide a free one month foreign holiday for all residents living adjacent to the building work, thus solving the sewage, traffic, noise and vibration problems all at once – albeit for a limited period.”

Current expectations are that the application will come up for a decision in the next couple of months. Watch this space.

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