Dear Mr. Pickles,
I am writing as a concerned shopper and potential voter living in Brighton and Hove, East Sussex. Sainsburys have applied for planning permission for 13-15 the Old Steine, and so far thousands of people have been motivated to sign petitions against this, but as Simon Kirby (M.P. For Brighton Kemptown) recently wrote, ‘the key issue appears to be the lack of powers which local authorities have to regulate the number of supermarkets within the area for which they are responsible’.
Brighton and Hove is a small city of about a quarter of a million people which now boasts over thirty supermarkets and Sainsburys are bidding for their tenth store in the city, only a few hundred yards down from another recently opened of theirs, in the council’s Cumulative Impact zone (designed to restrict the numbers of venues selling alcohol in key inner city area), in the east cliff and valley gardens conservation area.
Many residents have witnessed the sad decline of British industry and the demise of skilled tradesmen and specialist shops that used to thrive. Whenever and wherever a supermarket moves in to an area, the loss of trade is felt by our newsagents, grocers, butchers, bakers, florists, off-licenses and others, many being forced to close down. We’re in a recession. But supermarkets are booming.
No town or city is unaffected by supermarket expansion. Supermarkets claim they create jobs, but so does the building of jails, police stations, libraries, recreation areas, schools and hospitals. While the supermarkets’ profits soar in millions, but there is no real benefit to the community. We are already inundated with cheap supermarkets to shop in, should we wish to support the exploitation of land, labour and resources that shopping there involves.
Mary Mears, the head of Brighton council, has expressed her dismay at supermarket expansion in the city, but has admitted ‘her hands are tied’ when it comes to stopping them.
Please do whatever in your power to introduce legislation to limit supermarket expansion and untie Ms. Mears’ hands. For the sake of our country’s farmers, growers, dairy farmers (one a day of whom are put out of business in U.K. Alone), skilled traders and specialist shops, the changing faces and characters of our towns and cities, our natural resources and labour and environment, and that and those of all countries supermarkets trade with, and Britain’s growing army of ethical shoppers, please legislate against supermarket expansion. As concerned citizens we can vote politicians into power, but we cannot make the laws. The situation is beyond breaking point, please act now.