Tesco will help 'dying' town

A CONTROVERSIAL plan to build a Tesco's in Halesworth has won support from residents and shopkeepers who claim without it the town will die on its feet.

A CONTROVERSIAL plan to build a Tesco's in Halesworth has won support from residents and shopkeepers who claim without it the town will die on its feet.

The supermarket giant want to erect a 22,000 square metre store on land off Angel Link, but the proposal has been met with fierce opposition from many who fear it will kill off local shops and spoil the environment.

On Tuesday, representatives from Tesco invited their supporters to a meeting to inform them of their latest plans, which could include several thousand pounds given back to the community as part of the development.

David Porter, manager of Coopers, said many had started to shop away from Halesworth and they needed a new attraction to help bring back an influx of people.

He said: “This town is dying and we need some footfall here in order to keep going. At the moment a lot of people are going over to Beccles.

“We're going to be competing with Tesco, but we haven't got a problem with it, we can sharpen our pencils as much as they can. If it isn't Tesco we want something to bring in the crowds and enhance the town.”

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Mr Porter said a petition in favour of Tesco with 500 signatures is currently kept under the counter at Coopers in the Thoroughfare because of complaints to the store's managing director of its support to the development.

Julie Hall, 52, who has lived in the town all her life, said the majority of people born and bred in the town appear to be in support of Tesco.

“It's fair to say that some of the anti's leading the campaign would have complained when Noah built the ark that he had to cut down trees.

“I love this town and I've lived here all my life, I want to see it flourish. Having Tesco here would bring people back, create at least

150 jobs and free parking.”

Former councillor Eddie Hyde Clarke, 83, said he represented the average working class person, claiming that most people against the development were retired people that had moved into the town.

Barry Gould, who runs a commercial photography business in Suffolk, Essex and London, said he had first-hand proof that a supermarket such as Tesco could help a dying town.

“My studio is in Ware, Hertfordshire and the town was dying, but then Tesco came in and turned the town around, so many more businesses have arrived.”

Julia Howell, a working mum-of-two, follows both a gluten free and low carb diet and said shopping in Halesworth at the moment was extremely restrictive.

“I generally shop in Beccles or Lowestoft, I rarely come into the town. If we had a Tesco I would shop here.”

During two evening meetings representatives from Tesco showed guests a video of their Fakenham store, which opened around three years ago and the positive effect it had had.

They were also informed of some money that Tesco were willing to give back to the community if they get the green light.

Nick Gellatly, Tesco spokesman, said he hoped the application would be considered by Waveney's planning committee in the next few weeks.

If Tesco gain consent by the autumn he hoped the store could be open by spring 2011.

He said: “We've been impressed by how much support there is here. Quite a lot of people who have put their head above the parapet have experienced unpleasantness. But those opposed are actually in a minority.”