North suffolk: Campaigners query survey

RETAILER Tesco came under fire last night for a 'misleading' survey in which only a little over 60 residents were asked if they wanted a new store in their north Suffolk town.

RETAILER Tesco came under fire last night for a 'misleading' survey in which only a little over 60 residents were asked if they wanted a new store in their north Suffolk town.

The supermarket giant submitted a planning application to Waveney District Council earlier this year for a store on the Angel Link site in Halesworth.

The proposals have led to a mixed response - with those in favour hoping it will attract more shoppers to the area and those against fearing it will put local traders out of business.

Last night the Save Halesworth group claimed mistakes had been made with postcodes in telephone surveys that meant more people were interviewed in outlying villages than in the town itself.

The campaigners say that according to a report submitted with the planning application Tesco interviewed 180 people in Peasenhall and 97 around Shadingfield - but only 62 in Halesworth.

The group also believe the assessment of need for a new store is based on an unrealistic catchment area and inaccurate estimates of shopping expenditures.

Most Read

Garry Booth, spokesman for Save Halesworth, said: 'I don't think there was anything secretive going on - the figures are available, you just have to go through the documents with a fine toothed comb.

'However, I think it does show that Tesco's retail assessment in support of its planning application can't be trusted.

'It's misleading, my view. They interviewed fewer people in Halesworth over the need for a store than they did in Peasenhall, which is a small village. They also interviewed people who live nearer Beccles about their opinion on shopping in Halesworth.

'Obviously people in outlaying villages will be effected and have a valid opinion but they need to get the weighting right. I think it would be better for everyone if they did another survey with more responses from Halesworth.'

More than 2,000 people have signed a petition against the proposed store while 500 have signed a petition backing the development.

David Porter, manager of Coopers hardware, said: 'The town is getting quieter. I have run the business for five years and whatever the statistics are, we see nearly everyone does their big shopping trips in other towns. Halesworth needs something to bring shoppers back and a supermarket can do it.'

Nick Gellatly, from Tesco, said: 'This survey is a very small part of our work and simply illustrates how people shop at the moment.

'It is pretty much irrelevant to how we've demonstrated Halesworth needs a store in our planning application's retail assessment - that's completely unaffected.

'We have bent over backwards to explain the detail of our plans to those interested in statistics and recently held a dedicated workshop with them.

'Since then we looked again at the survey, re-analysed it in light of these points and the results still clearly show the vast majority of people do not shop in town, but could if we opened a store.'

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter