Saturday’s Guardian contained this interesting tale…
Tesco has become “an almighty conglomerate” abusing its unfettered market power to dominate towns at the expense of small retailers, Labour claimed as it called on the government to confront the chain.
The shadow local government minister, Jack Dromey, said: “Tesco want to rule retail, in particular the southern swath of England. It is simply not right that you can have one almighty conglomerate using its market power at the expense of the high street, and other retailers, particularly small struggling retailers.”
He said: “High streets have become like ghost towns with local retailers out of business with dire consequences for communities, the poor, the elderly and those without access to cars. This is a deeply felt issue all over Britain.”
Clearly the memo never reached Woolwich Town Hall. The story came a few days after a rare appearance from local Labour MP Nick Raynsford and a not-so-rare appearance from council leader Chris Roberts in Greenwich Council’s weekly Greenwich Time last week – bigging up a mammoth new Tesco, now under construction in Woolwich along with a housing development.
The 1.4m square feet of modern new development is part of the wider regeneration of Woolwich and will provide an exciting new centrepiece for the town centre. It is being built on the former site of Peggy Middleton House.
The scheme is being developed by mixed-use developer Spenhill, Tesco’s regeneration subsidiary. The 960 new homes will either have one, two or three bedrooms.
The flagship Tesco store will create 400 retail jobs and apprenticeships, with the new smaller shops planned for the site also requiring staff.
So, is Tesco destroying town centres or the saviour of them? Could they make their minds up?
In Tesco’s favour, mind, is that the development has delivered a shiny new council HQ and library, in contrast to the government-backed Hole in East Greenwich fiasco a few miles away, and replacing a number of rotten old admin centres nearby.
Contrary to rumour, I’m told the fancy bit at the top, which lights up after dark, isn’t the leader’s office, but a suite that can be hired out for functions.
Council staff moved in last month, and I’m told some have taken to their new offices with a passion, including a fight between social workers now being having to share their desks instead of having their own allocated spaces. It was quite a punch-up, it seems.
Locals in Woolwich have also apparently been helping themselves to computer equipment from the library, which didn’t have the security tags the books contain.
Any other tales from the new Woolwich Centre would be gratefully received. Perhaps if the council is such good mates with Tesco, it could take some tips from the company on stock control and security…