Tesco plan under the microscope
CAMPAIGNERS who say they are fighting to save Leighton’s High Street will step up their battle against a proposed expansion of the town’s Tesco store next week.
A consortium of town traders and businesses opposed to the expansion of the Vimy Road superstore is urging people to get behind their protest.
Although Tesco’s plan promises to bring 140 new jobs, the I Love LB group say that will come at a cost with small shops forced to close and lay-off staff – if Central Beds Council gives the proposed expansion the thumbs up.
The group is also worried that people don’t know enough about the planned work, which includes demolishing neighbouring Homebase and turning the area into a car park, and has organised a public meeting at Leighton Middle School for Tuesday.
The meeting starts at 7.30pm and group vice-chairman Genarro Borelli said it is imperative that as many people as possible attend and show their support and find out the facts of the Tesco application and what it will mean to the High Street.
He said: “I must make it clear that we are not against Tesco as it is now.
“By selling items that are usually sold in the town centre Tesco will take enough business away from the shops to cause some to close and then others will follow as fewer people visit the High Street.
“The fewer shops there are the less choice people will have and Tesco will not be able to replace the service and range that other shops provide now.
“The basic thing is that the Tesco expansion will be detrimental to Leighton Buzzard.
“Tesco were turned down in 2003 as the store was too far away from the town centre and the planning inspector agreed with the then South Beds District Council that it would harm the town centre shops.
“The long-term future of the town lies in the redevelopment of Smiths Meadow and the land behind the shops on the south side of the High Street.
“All this will be explained at the meeting for people to make their own minds up and give them an opportunity to have their say.”
Group member Phil Curtis of High Street hardware store Selections is also inviting customers and passersby by sign a petition backing the campaign.
He said: “Times are difficult enough and what we don’t want is anything that could lead us to lose shops.
“People need to be aware of what’s happening, it’s their town and it’s important that they to go along to the meeting if they want to keep the High Street specialist shops.”
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Weather for Leighton Buzzard
Sunday 19 May 2013
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