Supermarket giant tugs on heart strings

RICHARD BATSON Tesco has begun a hearts and minds campaign at Sheringham - ahead of re-submitting its controverisial plans for a store in the town.

RICHARD BATSON

Tesco has begun a hearts and minds campaign at Sheringham - ahead of resubmitting its controversial plans for a store in the town.

The supermarket giant is holding a meeting with key local people, and staging a two-day exhibition as it prepares for the latest chapter in a long-running saga aimed at building a store on the Cromer Road.

And anti-Tesco campaigners are already planning to stage a demonstration outside the exhibition at the weekend as they prepare to once more fight against the proposals.

Tesco are poised to resubmit their plans after planning councillors, who earlier rejected the plans 20-0, voted 10-2 in April to withdraw their opposition.

The decision is linked to a controversial land deal that effectively rules out a rival site nearer the town centre, and which has also been at the centre of a storm of protest.

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Tonight Tesco will host an invited selection of guests - from town councillors and traders to pro- and anti-Tesco lobbies - at a discussion about their plans.

Tomorrow and Saturday there are public exhibitions at the community centre on Cromer Road to explain the latest scheme. The Friday session is 12-8 and the Saturday one 10-2 - with displays to study, officials to chat to, and comment cards to be filled in.

A Tesco spokesman said the sessions, including the "forum of interested and concerned citizens", were a genuine effort to seek public views before finalising the latest plans.

He hoped they would be conducted in a "friendly, constructive and reasonable" way, and assured that all comments would be looked at before the plans were submitted.

The scheme would be largely the same as before, and he conceded the scope for major change might be limited.

Anti-Tesco campaigners Scamrod, the Sheringham Campaign Against Major Retail Overdevelopment, plan to hold a demonstration outside the exhibition on Saturday from 10-12.30.

Spokeswoman Eroica Mildmay said it would not be a rowdy affair as they prided themselves on being articulate campaigners.

They realised Tesco would be putting in a new plan, but she said Scamrod would also repeat its opposition - because of the potential impact on a currently "sparkling" Sheringham town centre, and the "laughable" view that the store, bringing in another 38,000 shoppers a week, would not affect the local roads.