by Natalie Bennett
In a letter in the Ham & High of May 2, 2013, Mr Uys (Drivers faced with trolley jam) expresses eloquently the frustration of Highgate High Street residents, workers and visitors with the thoroughly anti-social behaviour of the Tesco store there, but the problem is much wider than this one store.
Camden Green Party members talk regularly to residents near Tesco and Sainsbury stores in Kentish Town High Street, Fortess Road and Swain’s Lane, among others, who are plagued by trolleys blocking pavements, HGVs blocking roads, and noisy unloading at all hours of the day and night.
These supermarket chains are simply anti-social and abusive of the power of their size, and are being allowed to get away with behaviour that advantages them against their independent competitors – stores that are of far greater benefit to their local communities and provide far more jobs and business opportunities for suppliers.
Independent stores typically get deliveries by small vans, from a range of independent wholesalers and food manufacturers, and they have storerooms in which stock is held (on which they pay business rates).
By contrast the chains stock the stores straight from HGVs three or four times a day, using the public space of the pavement, and road, without any respect for the rights and needs of others.
When Camden Green Party had a pop-up shop in Fortess Road, the Sainsbury’s Local opposite regularly littered the highway with traffic cones, blocking off an HGV-sized space outside their store. They have no right to do that – only the arrogance of size and sense of entitlement that has infected far too many of our large companies, as demonstrated also by the way they continue to squeeze down staff wages, enforce casualisation on unwilling workers and employ unconsciounable zero-hours contracts.
The Green Party seeks on a national level to ensure that supermarkets pay the true social cost of their way of conducting business, or make major changes. On a local level, our councillors seek to ensure that noise abatement cases are brought by local authorities to address the nuisance that occurs.