ALMOST 1,200 residents and shopkeepers in Ore have now signed a petition in protest against a supermarket giant’s plans to open a new store in the village.
Tesco has plans to convert the former Oddfellows Arms pub, in Old London Road, into one of its Express stores.
More than 100 residents attended a public meeting last Thursday (December 13), set up by ward councillor Michael Wincott, in which they aired their concerns with Simon Petar, Tesco’s corporate affairs manager.
Cllr Wincott said: “Ore shop owners spoke passionately about how tough it is at the moment and that Tesco moving in could lead to closure.
“Tesco said that it is proud to raise money for local charities and do good works in the communities in which it has stores. I made the point that if it cared about what local people wanted, it should abandon plans to move into the village.
“No credible answers were given on parking or loading, and there was no meaningful acknowledgement that existing businesses in the village were at breaking point.
“Tesco will not supply any parking spaces and there was no answer when we asked how Ore will cope with extra traffic generation.
“I handed Mr Petar a petition containing 1,189 signatures from residents who are against the proposal. I will continue to distribute petitions in shops and community centres, and forward them on to Tesco. This is only the beginning and I will organise another public meeting with Tesco in the early part of next year.”
The Oddfellows Arms has been in Ore for more than 100 years before closing last year.
The original pub was based at 425 Old London Road. It was knocked down in 1929 and the present mock Tudor site built in the same year at 397 Old London Road.
Tesco, which would not need planning permission to turn the Oddfellows Arms into a shop, would create around 20 jobs and would open next autumn.
It plans to submit an application to the council in due course for minor works, such as alterations to the shopfront.
Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Petar said: “Last Thursday’s meeting was very helpful and useful and I look forward to working with the community in the weeks and months ahead.
“This is the beginning, not the end of the discussions with the local community. Our Express stores are popular with customers and we will be providing around 20 jobs for the local area. We find our stores help rejuvenate and revitalise shopping areas as we bring more people out to shop.”
He added interest in the jobs the shop will create had already been received by Tesco ahead of its planned opening.