Tesco: readers have their say

Tesco Clay Cross
Tesco Clay Cross

Letters have flooded in about the proposed Tesco store in Buxton following their spokesman Matthew Magee’s letter in the Advertiser.

Space won’t allow us to publish them all in the printed version of the paper - but here is a selection of those which we have received so far.

Dear Sir

Mr Magee’s letter in your Postbag published on 12th May makes interesting reading. It presents Tesco as a caring company who are concerned about increasing footfall to the town as a whole and reinvigorating the local economy. Far be it for me to challenge this philanphropic position, but I would like to ask Mr Magee the following:

Exactly how many residents in Buxton have Tesco spoken to? Not surprisingly Mr Magee says that the majority of residents they have spoken to are in favour of their store. The vast majority of people I have spoken to directly or have overheard in passing have not agreed with the proposals. Their reasons have been many and varied, but all have one common thread - a recognition of the fact that Buxton does not need another supermarket - no matter what the business name.

Have Tesco considered the impact of additional traffic through the town at peak times? I believe that residents who live nearby will suffer the detrimental effect of this as motorists use Lascelles Road; Lansdowne Road and Lightwood Road as a cut through at busy times.

Does Mr Magee genuinely believe that the arrival of their store will improve employment opportunities in the town? If Tesco do build I foresee Waitrose and possibly Marks and Spencer reviewing their operations in the town. The Co-op and Iceland will suffer as will other independent stores such as the Village Saver; The Devonshire Bakery and Fitzgeralds and The Wild Carrot to name, but a few.

As a resident of course I am not opposed to improvements that will benefit the town as a whole. If Buxton Spring do relocate to Waterswallows there a number of uses that the site could be used for - for example a market hall which would reinvigorate Buxton’s market town status; a community space; a leisure facility; even housing.

If Mr Magee and his employer care about Buxton as much as they profess, then I challenge them to actually get the opinions of everyone in the town. If the majority of residents are opposed as I believe they are, then they should take their ‘bounty’ to another town that has far less to lose.

Mrs A Irwin

St Johns Road


To Postbag

Tesco: not needed and not good for Buxton

By resorting to personal criticisms [letter from Tesco Corporate Affairs, 12/05/11] Tesco are showing their true colours. They have a long history of aggressively and persistently pursuing their planning applications, despite the valid objections of local people – ask the inhabitants of Stalham, Sheringham, Norwich and Beverley? In the Oxfordshire town of Bicester, with a population similar to Buxton, they have six stores! Their tactics are consistent - repeated appeals which wear down the patience, and the budget, of objectors, and the use of spurious planning ‘sweeteners’.

Their ‘extensive consultations’ have involved comparatively few Buxton people. Many are under the false impression that it is already a ‘done deal’, in which they have no further say. Nestlé have a vested interest in offloading their site: Tesco is their largest UK wholesale customer!

Mention of collateral benefits - such as bowling alleys, cinemas, student accommodation, ‘cafes and restaurants’ - is misleading. None of these are in Tesco’s business model; they are ‘sweeteners’ for which Tesco would have no long-term accountability.

Talk of a ‘key gateway site to revitalise the northern part of the town’ and ‘using natural stone and a unique design’ is shameless ‘marketing-speak’. Their proposed store is little more than a big shed, aimed at moving grocery shopping from one side of Station Road to the other.

The town already has a good choice of grocery outlets – Morrison’s (soon to expand) Waitrose, M&S, Aldi, Iceland and the Co-op. Tesco claims to offer ‘choice’, but their proposed store would merely poach customers from the existing outlets. This would eventually erode the real ‘choice’ already available in Buxton. Surrounding towns (Macclesfield, Ashbourne, Matlock, Whaley Bridge) already have sizeable supermarkets: their inhabitants do not need to come to Buxton for a weekly shop.

The proposed Tesco development would also have a very serious effect on the traffic flow along Buxton’s congested Station Road. At present there are a limited number of HGV movements from the current Nestlé site, and a modest amount of car traffic using the railway station car park. Station Road cannot cope with another junction, leading to / from Tesco’s 300-space car park. Congestion would get much worse, affecting traffic throughout the town and creating serious road-safety problems.

The arrival of Tesco would result in less ‘choice’, no net gain in jobs, and a serious traffic problem. There would be no sustainable long-term benefit to the town. Buxton people should write to their local councillors, and to the Derbyshire Council Highways Committee, to voice their objections. The Tesco proposal is not a done deal, and should be strongly resisted whilst there is still time.

Alan Atkinson


I was struck by the letter from Mr Magee of Tesco, which makes interesting claims.

He mentions Morrisons store as though it was the only other main retail outlet May I remind him that in Buxton we have an excellent Waitrose in the heart of the town, as well as other good chain food outlets such as Aldi, Iceland and also in Marks and Spencer! This is apart from what we still have in a variety of other excellent smaller individual retailers (including cafes!) We do not need yet another supermarket, I would have thought those we have should cater well for Buxton’s needs. How does his claim fit in with our Council’s retail study he refers to, which I guess really referred to the need for a wider range of smaller retail outlets in Spring Gardens itself? If Tesco became part of the retailing scene many of our smaller existing shops and cafes could well not survive, and Buxtonians would be the poorer. I believe, like many other discerning Buxtonians, that the heart of our trading centre in the town could be torn out: its individuality and vibrancy are vital to the town as a tourist centre as well as for local people and employment.

I appreciate that people do like supermarket shopping because many or most items can be purchased under one roof, but the claim that Mr Magee makes that it will bring trade into the town centre is unlikely to be true. I would predict that people would go into the free car park, (rather than the expensive Spring Gardens one) shop at Tesco, be unlikely to cross an already busy Station Road and go home: in fact at a meeting Tesco held earlier in the year, this was seen as a problem! Tesco claim to be a ‘One Stop Shop’ and ‘You Shop, We Drop’ supermarket. With its financial ‘clout’ and aggressive marketing it is likely to see other traders off, as in other areas, where protests have been strong.

The reference to a possible cinema/bowling alley is in line with inducements where it has persuaded local authorities in other areas of benefits it can bring (because it has strong financial backing) and which an authority cannot afford in these difficult economic times, as a way to establish itself. There are long term factors which I see that we as Buxton citizens must be aware of (the old adage caveat emptor: buyer beware) in the face of the (Tesco) claims he makes, however persuasive.

Alan Kent

via e-mail

The letter from Matthew Magee printed last week raises several issues.

Morrison’s may well dominate supermarket shopping in Buxton but food shopping is also available in a variety of outlets of national

chains-- Aldi, Waitrose, Iceland, Two Co-ops, Marks and Spencers,

Sainsbury Local and Tesco’s own Tesco Express. Five of these are located in the town centre and are easily accessible from Spring Gardens. It is probably true that few people who walk to Morrison’s also walk into town.It is however more likely that most of the people who arrive by car then drive into town, visiting other shops and businesses on the same trip as the supermarket.

I cannot imagine the town centre food traders seeing a significant increase in footfall as shoppers choose to do their weekly shop with Tesco. Should Tesco be successful with their plan, the demise of these local food shops will inevitably lead to a loss of jobs. This does not take into account the lines, other than food, stocked by Tesco’s.

Some people would not be drawn to Buxton because of a Tesco store.

There is a growing group of people who do not patronise them because of their business practices. It does not seem right to plan to enter local trade while offering leisure facilities as a bribe.

am not ideologically opposed to supermarkets, but appreciate that as Buxton did not need a Sainsbury’s, it does not need a Tesco’s supermarket.

Judy Corfield


In his letter (12th May 2011), Tesco’s Corporate Affairs Manager, Mr Magee, claims that Tesco will be good for Buxton’s town centre shops. Strange then, that as I walked through the town centre this morning, I saw anti-Tesco posters and banners in or above almost every shop window. Surely, if Mr Magee is correct, they should be welcoming Tesco with open arms?

Like Tesco’s consultants, I too have spoken to many people about this proposal, but unlike them, I have found that, to the vast majority, and for many different reasons, it is deeply unpopular. These are certainly not isolated or minority views, as Mr Magee seems to suggest. And for his information, no-one mentioned the building materials or store design as a factor which would influence their opinion. A wolf in sheep’s clothing is still a wolf.

Nicky Kierton


There are ‘lies, damned lies and statistics’.....and there’s Tesco PR-twaddle.

Mr Magee’s self-importantly long title and equally tedious letter regurgitates two myths:

1. Tesco is good for our community. Rubbish. We are a largely rural community where farming is still important and Tesco is not the farmers’ friend. The prices, terms and conditions it offers to suppliers are killing British farming.

2. Tesco will create ‘over 200 new local jobs’. More weasel words. Research shows that new supermarkets simply take jobs from other supermarkets and, much more importantly, from independent retailers. Some short-term jobs will be created during the building phase.

We have plenty of supermarkets in the town so take your muddle-headed misinformation elsewhere, Mr Magee.

Alistair Macdonald

Whaley Bridge

At the Barmecide Feast in the Arabian Nights an array of empty dishes was presented with the pretence that they were full of sumptuous food.

In like manner (Postbag, May 12) Mr Matthew Magee, on Tesco’s behalf, seeks to tempt the people of Buxton with a delicious-looking banquet of nonsense.

In pity, I concede that his employers have stuck this spin-master with a painfully embarrassing task: like a Flat Earth Society member forced to address a room full of modern geographers.

For our community has heard all his arguments before, studied them and seen through them, when Sainsbury’s peddled the same flimflam in 2007-2009.

He alleges that a majority of Buxton’s inhabitants want the proposed giant Tesco: just what Sainsbury’s spokesmen shouted from first to last. When everyone was invited to mail the Town Hall their comments on those plans, 988 citizens wrote against the scheme and only 4 in favour.

Mr Magee alleges the Tesco scheme would mean ‘more shopping choice’ which would ‘attract town centre shoppers’. Tesco does operate a national pricing policy; but I should not faint with surprise if for the first three months after their new mega-store was opened, all manner of basic goods were offered at ‘special reductions’: until the other shops had folded their tents and disappeared (followed by the special reductions).

In consequence there would be less employment in the town and less shopping choice.

As Tesco unfolds ever more lines and services (banking, estate agency, you name it), we would never hold onto such businesses as are here now, let alone the restaurants and cafés we currently enjoy.

His argument about car parking raised an unanimous jeer from all 204 members of the public at the Consultation Meeting on 11 October 2007, when Sainsbury’s spokesmen made the same claim. Tesco would indeed provide a free car park for its own shoppers; but the increase of traffic on the surrounding routes of access would turn the bottlenecks on and near Station Road into gridlock. How would that cause ‘town centre traders’ to ‘see a significant increase’ in customers?

His argument about Morrison’s is stated exactly the wrong way round. Morrison’s provides no threat to Buxton’s commerce and amenities just because it is too far away from the town centre to monopolise trade.

Mr Magee refers to ‘the council’s most recent retail study’ which ‘confirms the need ... to support regeneration and prevent trade-leakage’.

Given the fine grocers’ which already make Buxton rich in options, it is self-evident this town would be the shopping-centre of choice for multitudes from many miles afield IF ONLY ALL ITS OTHER SHOPS WERE SPECIALISED AND NICHE EMPORIA. If we had a saddler’s, a rug-cleaner’s, an ironmonger, a numismatist’s, a toy-shop, and so on, people would prefer Buxton to anywhere else within a 30-mile radius. Coming to Buxton would be like visiting Santa Claus’s own depot on Christmas Eve. There would be everything anyone could look to find.

What the Borough Council seems never to address are the following puzzles.- Why are rents so high on commercial premises in this town? Why do we never have an intelligent park-and-ride scheme: or any intelligent parking-scheme? Why are other disincentives offered to small shopkeepers?

As for the allegation that ‘there is a desire to see leisure facilities, such as a cinema and/or bowling alley, developed on the site as part of our investment’: this employs the usual bribery-technique with which megalomaniac developers lean on planning authorities - but with astonishing cheapness. Mr Magee himself points out that currently ‘potential leisure operators are unfortunately not interested’; so here we have not merely an empty cup or plate but an empty tureen.

Welcome to supper, Friends! - A big bowl of nothing.

Peter Scott


The letter published last week by Matthew Magee is both patronising and an insult to our intelligence. He tells us that through the proposed new Tesco supermarket, we will benefit from more shopping choice and that people will be able to walk into town after having competed their shopping at Tesco. He conveniently forgets the considerable choice currently available to people already in town, including of course Waitrose, Aldi, Iceland, Marks and Spencer, Sainsburys, The Co-op and so on. He also forgets the people who will not walk from Tesco into town because they will be able to do their non-food shopping there, threatening the existence of diverse chemists, stationers, clothes shops, sellers of electrical and household goods and so forth already struggling to survive.

Also, Mr Magee promises investment in new cafes and restaurants. I can think of at least 17 cafes and restaurants within ¼ mile of Spring Gardens, apart from pubs and hotels. How many more cafes and restaurants does he think we need?

In this letter, we are led to believe that a building “using natural stone and a unique design” will revitalise the northern part of town. (What is unnatural stone? Isn’t every design unique?) In fact, we all know that the reality will be another shed-like building, clad in plate glass, with garish signage and floodlights.

The tone of Mr Magee’s letter would have us think that Tesco only have our welfare at heart, yet again we all know that in reality the decision-makers at Tesco HQ probably couldn’t even find Buxton on a map. Sadly, it probably wouldn’t make much difference even if they could. One has the impression that the power of Tesco is such that they will inevitably get what they want, regardless of the view of the local people. However, we learn that last year alone Tesco made over £3.8 billion profit, which is approximately £60 for every man, woman and child in Britain, or a total of about £1,654,000, every year, for the 27000 people in Buxton. If Tesco really want “to revitalise the northern part of town”, why don’t they just give us the money!

Jonathan Parkes

Park Road, Buxton

Recently Tesco has mounted its own PR campaign, in typical corporate fashion, spinning and distorting the truth to convince us that a Tesco here will be for our own good. In fact, of course, no corporation in interested in anything but its own profit, and anyone believing the contrary is self-deluded.

I moved to Buxton two months ago, and was impressed by its character. It has a vibrant centre despite its tiny size. Small local shops and the market give the town the look and feel of a Britain that in most places has disappeared, and very much to our misfortune. Buxton has true local colour, rather than faceless corporate-run shopping centres and ubiquitous chain stores, which are the same blend of bland and boring everywhere.

Character and flair is not all that small local shops give to the town, though. I was also impressed with the general life satisfaction that truly most of the people here seem to exhibit. I believe this is based partly on the fact that so many of them are self employed and run their own small businesses. This satisfaction, and more importantly this economic base, will be destroyed if a large, characterless Tesco moves in.

Tesco offers poorly paid jobs and non-locally sourced mass products. That is why they are so cheap. Tesco will provide nothing for the local economy- its profits are funelled to the already-wealthy in London and elsewhere. It will not buy local goods, but instead will bring in the cheapest possible goods from afar-- bad for local suppliers, bad for the environment (due to the transport). Tesco workers have no future prospects, they are drones with no control over their own destiny. Moreover, as just about everyone knows, large corporations pay little or no tax, thanks to accounting tricks.

The recent history of corporations like and including Tesco shows that these corporations destroy rather than enhance local economies. All Buxtonians should deny them the possibility to ruin our lovely town with their ugly corporate greed.

Daniel Vallin

via e-mail

Tesco, you arrogantly under-estimate the view of Buxton people.

“Footfall” Tesco would generate into Spring Gardens would be nil. Iceland, Co-operative, Marks and Spencers, Waitrose,and Aldi’s cover “footfall” more than adequately.

“Footfall” also is generated by our splendid Opera House, Pavilion Gardens, grand architecture and access to the surrounding countryside.

“Footfall” From our unique variety of shops, arcades and cafes, restaurants etc. Plus a great deal more.

On the outskirts we have Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsburys, and another Co operative.

All these stores for a population of 20.851 complied on 1st January 2010. Seems rather a lot to me!!

Sorry Tesco, we dont want you, and certainly dont need you.

Yvonne Chalker

via e-mail

Those of us who live on the north side of the town and do not possess a car would welcome a supermarket in the town centre. For us it is either a long walk to Morrisons or an expensive taxi, as there is no bus service. Morrisons is, effectively, an out-of-town supermarket. Not everyone has a car: perhaps the vociferous objectors (most of whom, I suspect, have cars) could consider those of us who are pedestrians.

Mrs E A Bennett

Chatsworth Lodge