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Tesco pharmacy plans come under fire

PUBLISHED: 08:00 07 November 2008 | UPDATED: 07:45 01 August 2010

A BECCLES councillor has accused Tesco of trying for another "notch on the bedpost" after it was revealed that the town's store wants to lift a restriction which stops it from opening a pharmacy.

A BECCLES councillor has accused Tesco of trying for another “notch on the bedpost” after it was revealed that the town's store wants to lift a restriction which stops it from opening a pharmacy.

When the Beccles store was granted planning permission in 2003, it was done so under the condition that it could not provide dry cleaners, post office or pharmacy services.

Beccles Town Council's planning committee voted against the bid at a meeting on Tuesday. Councillor Caroline Topping said: “It will be the next notch on the bedpost and before you know it they will have the whole town. Then it will be clothes, then it will be washing machines.”

Chairman of the planning committee Brian Woodruff said afterwards: “It's the thin end of the wedge. Tesco has done quite a bit for the town, but what we don't want to see them doing is closing the rest of the town down. That's our biggest fear. It's a creeping barrage.”

He added: “Every £1 of profit made by Tesco goes out to its shareholders who do not live in Beccles, whereas the profit of independent traders stays in the town.”

Councillors also raised fears about the impact on the three existing pharmacies in the area.

The manager at Worlingham Pharmacy said: “We believe the restriction should not be lifted as it was put there for a reason in the first place and if the restriction is lifted it will affect our trade. We have received no complaints from patients about the lack of pharmaceutical services in the catchment area.”

Peter Hobbs, manager at Beccles Health Centre Pharmacy, said: “The application to the district council for the lifting of the pharmacy restriction is a regrettable step which demonstrates a lack of community concern.”

Mr Hobbs said that his pharmacy provided an extended hours service, Boots opened on Sundays, and that the three pharmacies provided an out of hours service on bank holidays, adding: “It would be unfortunate if the existing network of provision was destabilised by the lifting of this restriction.”

The Tesco pharmacy's opening hours would be 8am-10.30pm on Mondays, 6.30am-10.30pm Tuesdays to Fridays and until 10pm on Saturdays, and normal Sunday hours.

Tesco spokesman Nick Gellatly said it would provide extra out-of-hours and consulting services. “We're always looking to improve our offer for customers and are applying to include a pharmacy to meet demand from the community and improve services in town,” he said.

“Since opening, the store has become very popular and many people agree it has brought shoppers back into the town, contributing to regeneration and the growth of other businesses.”

It would create the equivalent of 2.5 full time pharmacists' jobs, and up to positions for six counter assistants.

The decision will be taken by Waveney District Council's planning committee.

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