CAMPAIGNERS stepped up their fight against plans for a new Tesco store in Goring with a protest at the proposed site.
More than 60 people gathered outside the former Queen’s Arms pub in Reading Road, which the company wants to convert into an Express store, on Saturday afternoon.
The pub shut in November and was bought by Tesco shortly afterwards.
Campaign group Stop Tesco In Goring claims the site is not safe because it is on a blind junction and there are not enough pavements and those that exist are too narrow.
Protestor Sarah Fraser, of Clevemede, Goring, said: “I don’t think it’s appropriate to have a shop here. It’s going to take the life out of the village and it’s not needed.”
Carola Percival, also of Clevemede, said the village needed housing, not a supermarket and the village already had “perfectly adequate” shops.
Jack Patel, who owns Westholme Stores in Wallingford Road, claimed a Tesco store would take trade away from local businesses.
He said: “I have got to look after my interests just as Tesco has got to look after its interests, especially when it’s going to damage my trade.
“Tesco opening here is going to take 60 to 70 per cent of my trade. A lot of my friends have suffered from this sort of fall in their trade when Tesco has opened in other towns and villages. It’s wrong to come into a village where there’s only a certain amount of trade.”
Before the protest around 140 people visited Goring village hall to hear an update on the campaign and view an exhibition showing STIG’s plans and successes to date as well as descriptions of other successful campaigns against planned Tesco stores across the country.
Among the visitors were Henley MP John Howell and South Oxfordshire District Council leader and Goring councillor Ann Ducker.
STIG spokesman Emrhys Barrell said: “The ordinary people of Goring are still completely in support of what we’re doing and this is what this has shown us. This campaign is winnable, it’s not just a forlorn hope. The more we keep going, the more I think this can be won.”
Last month, campaigners, representatives of the district council, Goring Parish Council and local businesses held a meeting with Tesco’s corporate affairs manager Beth Greenhouse and the company’s planning and highways consultant.
Mr Barrell said the company planned to submit minor works applications for changes to the front of the building, including signs, doors and a cash machine. These applications would take eight to 12 weeks to be processed.
He said: “They said they are not going to put in these applications until they have consulted with the village, so we have delayed them by a minimum of three months, probably four.”
Councillor Ducker said: “There’s still a lot of oppostion to the scheme.We’re not against Tesco per se, it’s purely the site. It’s not suitable for a supermarket.”
She said Mrs Greenhouse had called a meeting with those who support Tesco’s plans, adding: “This meeting is to see what people would accept.
“I think she wants to show some mock-ups. It’s only right I listen to their case.”
Nearly 2,000 people have signed a petition opposing the plans.
STIG plans to commission its own highways analysis and will be fundraising to pay for this.
The group has also sent out a survey to every house in Goring and Streatley, asking people about their shopping habits and how they would change if the Tesco store opened. It will publish the results of this survey as soon as they have been analysed.
A Tesco spokeswoman said: “The former Queen’s Arms site has existing retail consent. We believe the store would be popular with local shoppers.
“We have been pleased to hear from many residents who welcome our plans. We’re continuing to consult with the community as we move forward with preparing our minor works applications for the store.”