So a riot breaks out in Bristol as police battle with local residents over a new Tesco express store due to be opened up in Stokes Croft. Who started it and whether it was case of heavy policing or hardened troublemakers is not the key issues. What is the issue is why that community doesn’t want a Tesco store on its high street. This is not MacDonalds or Starbucks or a bank. This is a supermarket offering convenience and ever little that helps. There have been petitions and post card objections and over 300 protestors on the streets.
So what is happening? The store is the 18th in City that has a reputation for a certain alternative and bohemian way of life that spawned Banksy and Massive Attack. But from every walk of life people don’t want the bland and the corporate thrust up on them. Tesco talk about creating local jobs but don’t talk about the ones they will destroy. Variety, local culture and identity just go. Yes the store is open longer and later but it’s a miserable shopping experience under the bright lights and the same products in every store every week. As I’ve posted before – everywhere ends up looking and feeling the same. What is the point of living in Stokes Croft if it looks like everywhere else?
My friend Andrews Simms has written brilliantly about the effects of Tesco. It’s a corporate giant that gets what it wants the globe over. Farmers, distributors even governments bend at the knee to their power. I should know I once worked for them. They are ruthlessly and clinically efficient. The planning committee in Bristol will have been bombarded with reports and surveys and promises of regeneration. They will pay more for a site they want than any one else. The politicians find it almost impossible to say no. But people don’t like bullies and don’t always want their community to be changed. Good on the people of Stokes Croft.