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In 2010, Tesco Plc announced their intention to move into the Stokes Croft/Montpelier area in Central Bristol. Tesco gained planning permission to open their store without anybody realising their intention. Planning permission was applied for by a third party. The legal minimum consultation took place. One A4 sign on a lamp post, and one small ad in The local paper. Fifty consultation letters were sent out, and no objections were received: Indeed no replies whatsoever were received. When it emerged that Tesco had gained permission to open a store in this underhand manner, 2,500 objections were sent to our Council. Surveys were conducted amongst local people. The results were overwhelming. This area of the City did not want a Tesco store. Despite a diligent and vocal campaign from the local populace, our City Council lacked the courage to deny Tesco Plc the right to open in an area defined by its local character. Stokes Croft and Montpelier are both Conservation areas, whose status is defined by its independence of character. Certain groups squatted the building and, in March 2010, those squatters were evicted by bailiffs. The Police stood between the bailiffs as they did their work. Resentment in the community was building.

The campaign then fought a rearguard action against Tesco on shopfront guidelines, and on their ability to service the store without major disruption to traffic, having been denied the right to oppose on planning grounds. Meantime, Tesco erected barricades around the store and kept a 24 hour vigil on their store as they built it. Five security guards remained full time on the premises, and the property resembled a prison camp. Tesco was protecting itself from the Community it professed to serve.

When full permission was finally granted by Bristol City Council at a stormy Council House meeting in Dec. 2010, Tesco started to build their premises. They opened in Mid- April 2010. Peaceful protest took place daily outside the store, every day. On the day before the first riot, Police confiscated the trolley and seating ranged outside the store. It was not clear why.

According to Simon Hughes, local beat officer, a fire bomb was seen/filmed by a Tesco security guard on the Thursday before the Easter Bank holiday at the Telepathic Heights squat opposite.  The decision was taken to raid the squat around 8.30pm 0n Thursday evening, with Police wearing protective clothing. Back up Riot police were waiting in the wings. The squat was busted, things got out of hand. A riot took place. 160 riot police were on the streets of Stokes Croft.

Towards the end of the evening, the Tesco shopfront was trashed.

During the process of the No Tesco Campaign, it has become increasingly apparent to all those who have taken part that our society is increasingly dominated by large business, and not necessarily to the benefit of wider society. It is clear that corporations are increasingly more powerful than government, as evidenced by our Council’s inability to listen to the wishes of local people.

It seems that we must question the right of large business to affect the direction that our society takes, and that we must spend our money elsewhere than in supermarkets, in the clear knowledge that every pound we spend with them represents a vote for them. If we want less supermarkets, we must stop using them. If we want less battery hens, we must buy free range eggs. If we want real change, we must publicise what is happening, and we must construct alternatives.

The “Boycott Tesco” campaign applies, more or less, to all supermarkets. Increasing centralization and market domination by fewer and fewer players means that our food becomes increasingly poor, with fresh local food, and therefore local culture, increasingly under threat.

It is our belief that we must evolve food supply chains that;

1) Must allow, indeed give preference to, the sourcing of local food.

2) Must ensure food security. Currently approximately just 40% of food consumed in the UK is produced in the UK.

3) Must ensure that all food is produced in a sustainable fashion. This means that we must eschew pesticides, look after the soil and treat nature in a holistic manner, rather than imposing industrial methods on our fragile ecosystem.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Nick permalink
    April 22, 2011 2:19 pm

    you are an inspiration to us all, the degree of localism and community shown and the brave fight put up despite the odds and sytematic limitations has put us who have not taken action against such things to shame. Solidarity from watford.
    good luck on a continued resistance. The message that there is an altermative way of life to this slavery we live in to big buisness has been shouted out across the uk, lets just hope many more awnser this call

  2. steve permalink
    April 23, 2011 3:55 pm

    its not even in stokes croft its on cheltenham road so shut up with your shitty protests your costing this city to much money and arnt doing any favours for the local community.

    • June 14, 2011 5:25 pm

      Um, did you even read the above article? Or indeed, have you made any effort to familiarise yourself with the situation from any of the multitude of sources which are available on this topic? The ‘Boycott Tesco’ campaign is driven by the local community, I suggest you familiarise yourself with the local activism which is being driven from various sources in the area – the PRSC for instance,, local blogs, or news sites such as
      To quote from the above campaign statement, in response to ‘[you] aren’t doing any favours for the local community’,
      “When it emerged that Tesco had gained permission to open a store in this underhand manner, 2,500 objections were sent to our Council. Surveys were conducted amongst local people. The results were overwhelming. This area of the City did not want a Tesco store.”
      This blog serves to publicise the community’s efforts and thus is very definitely doing it a favour.

      With regards to cost, I can only imagine you’re referring to the costs tied in to the police handling of the ‘riots’ in April. It seems to me that the riots were not triggered by or affiliated with the ‘No To Tesco’ campaign, they were triggered by the forcible eviction of squatters opposite the Tesco site, at kicking out time for the pubs, on a hot Thursday evening before the start of a bank-holiday weekend (ever seen ‘Do the Right Thing’?) – this was a ridiculously mis-managed decision by authorities from the start, and I have the greatest sympathies for the police on the ground who had to carry it out, and deal with the inevitable consequences of an inebriated crowd who after months and months of being ignored in their attempts to deal peacefully with a situation came out onto the streets in large crowds only to be confronted with the sight of physical force being used against some of it’s own. If you look at the basis of a situation, you have a better chance of predicting how it’s going to evolve, and this one was just looking violent all over. If you want to keep costs down, listen to peoples problems, and try to deal with them cooperatively. Sticking a load of dirty money in your ears and going ‘I’m fine, la-la-la, I can’t hear you’ is not an option.

      As for it not being in Stokes Croft, I’m not a driver, so I’m not familiar with the exact locations of road names in general, but then what’s in a name? I’m a Bristolian born and bred and, along with my friends, I consider the cultural boundaries of the area of Stokes Croft to fall very much over the site of the new Tesco. It may be ‘Cheltenham Road’ technically, but to the people who live in the area and those who are familiar with it, technicalities such as this are merely the recourse of corporate lawyers who know how to spin ‘technicalities’ to their own private benefits, and they do not in any way reflect the sentiment of the local people and their idea of what Stokes Croft really is. Furthermore, I think that part of Cheltenham Road actually falls within the designated boundary of the area of Stokes Croft (see anyway…

  3. Bob permalink
    June 18, 2011 10:47 pm

    Get a life! go get a proper job. You say your doing this for the community but look at the mess and damage your creating, Tesco are simply providing a good service and tidied up the area. If you actually think you will win this against tesco then your pathetic…

  4. local resident permalink
    June 19, 2011 4:25 pm

    A number of your facts are incorrect. The riots were not triggered by an eviction of a squat – there was no forcible squat eviction on April 21st – despite what you might have read on the internet. Also, it is a fact that many people in the local community do not support this campaign – can we please stop talking about community in such vague terms.
    Also – it is not up to Bristol City Council or any other local council to make planning decisions based on what company is seeking planning permission – even if large numbers of people might not support that company. This is not how the UK planning system works. There is no distinction between independent shops and chains in the planning system. If you think there should be, then you need to try and change the planning system, rather than complain about Bristol City Council.


  1. Tesco attacked during Riots of Thursday 21st April « Boycott Tesco

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