A QUESTIONNAIRE on Tesco’s plans to open a shop in Goring will be sent to every home in the village.
The Goring Gap Business Network, which is conducting the survey, says it wants an accurate snapshot of public opinion on the scheme.
The form will be posted to all 1,300 households in Goring this weekend with Goring Gap News.
The seven multiple-choice questions cover residents’ current local shopping habits and whether they support Tesco’s plans for an Express store at the former Queen’s Arms pub in Reading Road.
Since Tesco announced its plans in December, more than 1,800 people have signed petition urging it to rethink. The petition was organised by Stop Tesco in Goring, a residents’ protest group, which says the store would threaten Goring’s independent traders by drawing shoppers away from the high street.
It also says the site is unsuitable because it is on a dangerous junction and would be dangerous for pedestrians.
Other residents say they would welcome the store but have felt too intimidated to talk publicly. They say the petition is unfair and not representative because people can sign it online even if they do not live in Goring.
The network, which has remained neutral on the issue, says its survey is the fairest way to obtain a proper picture. Co-chairman Richard Roberts said: “We are trying to get a real handle on where everyone stands. We want some clear, hard data so that we know the true story. This will move us away from the issue of whether or not people from outside the villages are signing the petition. It is very important that everybody feels they have had a chance to make their voices heard.”
Mr Roberts said the network would remain unbiased regardless of the outcome.
But he added: “A number of us are in the protest group and clearly have concerns about the risk to the village centre. Until now, the group has operated on the basis of meetings and petitions so there has been an impression that lots of people oppose Tesco. If it transpires that everyone actually wants a Tesco we will pack up and go home.”
The pub shut in November and was sold by Greene King to a property developer before Tesco signed a lease on the premises. The company does not need change of use permission. Meanwhile, the protest group is encouraging people to write to Tesco chairman Sir Richard Broadbent urging him to abandon the scheme.
It is also trying to raise £5,000 to enlist the help of highways and traffic experts.It hopes to hold another public meeting on March 1 at a venue to be announced. More than 600 people attended the first meeting last month and voted overwhelmingly against Tesco’s plans.
Group chairman Rob Jones said it supported the questionnaire and was confident the results would show the store would have an impact on local traders.
Goring Parish Council does not oppose Tesco but shares protesters’ concerns over traffic and the impact on trade.
It recently met with Tesco representatives and urged them to consider improving road safety if the store goes ahead. This could include widening the pavement in Wallingford Road or installing pedestrian and wheelchair access points.
The council also urged Tesco not to stock newspapers, magazines, flowers and fresh meat to avoid competing with existing businesses and asked it not to install a cash machine. There are cash machines at the HSBC and TSB banks in High Street and a third at the post office at McColl’s newsagents.
Council chairman Alan Strong said: “It was very useful for us to be able to make our points directly to Tesco. We will have to wait and see what kind of reaction we get.”
A Tesco spokeswoman said: “We’re continuing to consult with the community over our plans. So far we have had some really useful feedback, all of which will carefully be taken into consideration before we look to submit our planning applications. We’ll continue to keep the community updated.”