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Do the supermarkets hold too much power over our councils?
CONCERNS have been raised over the rise of supersized supermarkets across Basildon and the power big brands have over the council.
Nigel Smith , leader of the Labour group at Basildon Council, also worries the supermarkets are being put into areas where they are not needed, while other places are crying out for investment.
He spoke out with other members of the Labour group after the council announced it was pushing ahead with plans to knock down Pitsea pool so a new Morrison’s supermarket could be built as part of a major regeneration scheme.
Mr Smith is concerned supermarkets are now seen as integral to any regeneration plans, but wonders why Pitsea will soon have two with the new Morrisons and its existing Tesco Extra, and yet the rundown Laindon Centre has none.
Mr Smith said: “The Laindon Centre desperately needs a supermarket. It is not fair to ask local residents, some of whom are elderly, to travel all the way to Basildon yet the people of Pitsea are going to have two massive supermarkets and no swimming pool. There is no balance. The power and the influence of the supermarket is very strong.”
He also worries whether both big supermarkets will survive in Pitsea.
He said: “In five years time we might see either Tesco or Morrisons in Pitsea close and then we would have big empty abandoned supermarkets. And what about Lidl? They will really struggle with such enormous competition. Smaller local stores may be the answer in bringing people back into the centre of towns without losing valuable amenities like Pitsea swimming pool.”
The 75,000 square foot Morrisons planned as part of the Pitsea regeneration project will be a stone’s throw from the enormous 125,000 sq ft Tesco Extra – the second largest one in the country. There are also Tesco stores in Basildon and at Mayflower Retail Park, a Sainsbury’s in Eastmayne, Basildon and two Asda’s in Basildon at Eastgate Shopping Centre and the Pipps Hill Retail Park.
John Scarola, Labour councillor for Laindon Park, said: “It is beyond me why this has gone ahead. As if the area needs another supermarket. There will be price wars and we all know people will shop wherever it’s cheapest.”
Trevor Draper, of Billericay Cook Shop, and former head of the town’s chamber of commerce, said: “Local councils have allowed the expansion of supermarkets. That has drawn people away from the town centre and this has been to the detriment of many towns.
“We need to value local businesses and bringing in large supermarkets is not always the solution.”