Sainsburys supermarkets Ltd,
Head office, 33 holborn,
This is an official complaint regarding all your proposed planning applications for 13-15 the Old Steine Brighton, including the shop front, ATM machines and alcohol license.
I am writing to you as a concerned resident of Brighton and Hove, and a concerned shopper.
On your own website you talk of ‘listening to the needs of communities, generating local wealth and making a positive social impact’ and ‘making a positive difference for everyone’.
However any flood of wealth is a trickle by the time it reaches the shop floor and barely a drop outside the store entrance.
Ben Duncan, green councillor recently said,’ The truth is that people come to St. James’ street because they like the fact that it’s a little bit quirky— and with every new supermarket opening the street becomes a little more like everywhere else, and there are less reasons for visitors to the city to come to that area. Residents have less choice– they(supermarkets) all sell pretty much the same range of branded goods as each other– and local businesses would suffer as rents rise and the big stores undercut local traders until they go bust.’
From your own website you talk of forming mutually-productive partnerships with suppliers that help them raise environmental and social standards and do more towards genuine sustainability. Fortunately we discerning shoppers know the difference between green-wash and hogwash.
In the U.K one dairy farmer a day and in E.U. two small-holder farmers a day are forced out of business by supermarkets’ ruthless price wars. Far from encouraging sustainability, supermarkets’ (including Sainsbury’s) contracts, pricing and ordering are forcing more suppliers and growers into poverty in U.K. and abroad, and Sainsbury’s have been found to have employed illegal workers. Saisburys (as do other supermarkets) engage extensively in a trading practice that is illegal in many European countries, whereby the supermarket will sell on goods at less than it cost them to by from their suppliers. People are attracted into the store by attractive ‘loss-leaders’, and local independent competition is eliminated.
On your own website you talk about the need to take into account the carbon that goes into the construction of your buildings, and the environmental consequences of products sold and how they are used.
I take it then that if the planning application for 13-15 Old Steine, Brighton is granted that you will be installing solar panelling to take advantage of our sunny climate. You talk of sourcing products from all over the world and reducing your carbon footprint, yet what fuels the planes and lorries used to transport said goods, what is used in the (often needless) packaging of said goods, what are non-organic pesticides made from,and what is used for the manufacture of plastic bags? (The world’s rapidly dwindling oil supplies.)And then what of the problem of increased traffic congestion, loading and unloading right by a busy city centre traffic light intersection?
Opposition to Sainsbury’s in Brighton is not limited to a few ‘dirty squatters’, the campaign has been vocally supported by St James’ street traders, the police, councillors and M.P.s from Green, Labour and Conservative parties, as well as local shoppers and residents.
Brighton and Hove already has over 30 supermarkets (including nine Sainsbury’s stores already), and 3 other supermarkets along the 500 yard stretch that is St. James’ street. Brighton and Hove shoppers are already spoilt for choice when it comes to supermarket shopping. In Brighton, beggars tend to be attracted to ATM machines and the proposed alteration of shopfront and signs would be totally out of character and marr the East Cliff and Valley Gardens conservation area. The area is already saturated with places that sell alcohol, Sainsbury’s would in no way be able to demonstrate that yet another alcohol-selling licensed venue would have no negative impact on steet drinking, pre-loading and alcohol-related crime and nuisance, with police already fully-stretched and many locals’ nerves shredded from current levels of alcohol-fuelled crime, nuisance and anti-social behaviour, in the heart of Brighton’s own Cumulative Impact area.
You boast of your ‘green’ qualifications while at the same time funding genetic modification (g.m.) research . You boast of your fair-trade record, but for all the high-profile fair-trade marketing, it doesn’t alter the fact that most of your goods are unfairly traded. If Sainsbury’s persist and are granted planning permission, the tills would not be buzzing with the beeping of bar-codes, but rather the sound of silence.
Green councillor Ben Duncan( on 24th march 2011) referred to the ‘cosy relationship between government and supermarkets’ .Nowhere is this more apparent than in the case of Lord Sainsbury’s of Turville. Ex-chairman of Sainsbury’s, he served the labour government between 1998 and 2006 as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Science and Innovation at the Department for Trade and Industry, and donated millions of pounds to the labour government. A lifelong peer, he still exerts a considerable amount of influence in government. In 2009 he changed allegiance to the Conservative party, saying ‘The end game is to make sure the country is run better, not just support the labour party’. He is still Sainsbury’s largest single shareholder and his family own 15% of J.Sainsbury’s plc. The good of the country or the good of the company? Justin King C.E.O. In 2010 added his 2ps worth saying that it would be ‘very helpful’ if the coalition government used spending cuts to reduce the (country’s) deficit rather than increasing taxes. Helpful for whom, Mr King?
Sainsbury’s talk of the benefit to the community of jobs created in the opening of each new store, but there are many other ventures (in not just financial terms) likely to be more beneficial to the community, without resorting to the exploitation of land and resources that comes with all supermarkets (including sainsbury’s). As Corporate Watch point out,’ Sainsbury’s, along with other supermarkets, still fail to ensure that adequate prices are paid to farmers across the world’, (except in rare ‘fair-trade’ cases), ‘thus creating a lot more poverty than it relieves.’
You talk about the importance of listening to the needs of our communities, let’s hear from them:
Mary Mears, head of Brighton council, (March 24th 2011) referring to the 56 big stores already open in the city ‘we are rapidly approaching saturation point’.
Labour M.P. Tom French’s Keep Brighton Unique petition against Sasinsbury’s in Kemptown attracted over 1,400 signatures, in a matter of weeks.
Caroline Lucas, Green M.P.(Brighton Pavillion),’ This is what the Sustainable Communities Act is all about– long-term community-controlled sustainable engagement allowing local people to decide the solutions to problems in their communities’.
Local Conservatives Gail Woodcock, Anne Glow and Mike McFarlane, ‘We firmly believe the supermarket (Sainsbury’s) will detract from the unique diversity of St. James’ street as a neighbourhood and community shopping facility and that the arrival of this supermarket could herald the demise of long-standing independent businesses in the road…We call upon the City Council to support local businesses and urge J. Sainsbury’s plc to rethink the location of this store and consider alternative sites’ outside Brighton.