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Park Road Tesco: Does every little help?

As the retail giant pledges £600,000 to Dingle, Tony Schumacher wonders if it's enough

Published on April 30th 2011.

Park Road Tesco: Does every little help?

I’VE got a theory, it’s that one day we will be born in a Tesco maternity hospital (PFI); we will go to a school at a Tesco-funded academy (similar to Peter Vardy’s grant school experiments). 

After school we will progress onto a Tesco university (at nine grand a head, surely it will soon be profitable) and, at the culmination of years of hard work, the Smart Price graduate will stumble out of the school gymnasium in their cap and gown (from the Florence+Fred dress hire emporium) clutching their degree in something useful, like forensic and criminal psychology.
'Why will they want to help
my business? I’ll be taking money
out of their pocket. I’ll be gone
by the time they spend that'
They will look around at the dole queues and end up working in Tesco doing something worthwhile, like brushing up the doughnut sugar, until they can get a job working at the Tesco prison looking after the inmates who ended up there after shoplifting at Tesco, or, if they come from Bristol, trying to burn it down.

Granted, it is a theory based on the sound principles of a lager fuelled rant I once had in the pub and I did somewhat diminish its righteous indignation by saying “remind me to stop for milk on the way home at the petrol station” to which my mate replied “You mean the Tesco?” forcing me to nod and mutter “well its convenient and its open till midnight”.

And therein lies the problem with Tesco: we all say we hate it, but we all go there.

When I go to Prescot, it hovers over the small town centre like the dark satanic mills of old Lancashire did the small towns they supported.

20113004parkroadl8.jpgThere, nearly everyone knows someone who works there. Off-duty staff shop in uniforms after their shift has finished. Many eat in the cafe, surrounded by pensioner’s specials of two sausages beans and chips, on sticky tables.

A friend, recently made redundant from the council, has taken up a job there - a case of Tesco taking up the slack left by Cameron’s cuts. Her hours are longer and her wages are shorter, so Dave has also cut her holiday and her family's second car, but she has a job, thanks to the town's feudal baron of bargains.
I was in a newsagent in Park Road, Dingle, on Thursday. I asked the man behind the counter if he was looking forward to his new giant neighbour that slumbered restlessly across the road, just waking up.

“It’ll kill me, I can’t compete,” he said dolefully. I mentioned the £600 000 investment, that they had promised in the area, as part of the deal to open, next month.

He replied “Why will they want to help my business? I’ll be taking money out of their pocket. I’ll be gone by the time they spend that.”

I left the shop feeling more depressed than the area it is in. Small businesses, like the newsagent,  are to be given new signs, shutters and lights and up to £2,500 for further improvements – provided  they can match it.

I read later that Princes Park Councillor Alan Dean had said that local shops “would survive by selling things that Tesco don't".

One wonders what there is left to sell after Tesco have stocked their largest store in Liverpool. Is there still a market for penny farthings?

But its not all doom and gloom. They will bring jobs, they say, and jobs will bring money, granted that money will be spent in Tesco but the newly employed staff won’t complain if it lifts them out of the dole.

And not just any old job: it will give them pensions, flexible working and security with a company that’s going places with plenty opportunity for advancement, just ask Sir Terry Leahy who joined as a trainee manager and who rose to the very top, maybe my mate in the newsagent will whack in an application form when his shop closes down.

20113004tescoparkroad.jpgSo, like a boulder rolling down a hill, Tesco is coming and there isn’t anything anyone can do to stop it. The people of Dingle will have to do what every other community has done and just see what’s left after it has come to a halt and the dust has settled.

I’m not sure Park Road will become like Allerton Road and sprout 20 wine bars and cafes along its macchiato mile, I tend to think it will sprout To let signs and shutters like Prescot has done.

Still, you can never have too many sunbed shops and nail bars, can you?

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16 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousApril 30th 2011.

£600k is absolutely nothing to Tesco. Of course they will dole that money out to tart the area up, it is in THEIR interests.
Why would the little man in the newsagent or fruit shop want to spend £2,500 of his own money on new signage when his business is doomed anyway? It's a gross insult if you ask me. People in Tokky will love it, mind you.

Steve FaragherApril 30th 2011.

We in the People's Republic of Kensington Upon Fairfield havent even had the privilege of a 600k back hander, our new Tesco Express (or the One armed bandit) has actually cost us money as the new shop is situated in the lovely New Neighbourhood centre which received over £2million public subsidy from the buffoons at Kensington Regeneration, thats our/yours/my money, every little helping Tesco, what did we get for this community regeneration investment, well a few part time min wage jobs, a free cash machine (3 out of the 4 times I've tried to use it had apparently run out of money), no cash back facility (its got to be the only Tesco in the world that doesnt offer cash back) and to put the kibosh on it Tesco wont insure your car in the L6 and L7 areas.
Personally I now shop at the New and totally wonderful L& International Food Market on Prescot/Laurel Rd in the old Aldi building. WIde selection of fresh food, its own bakery, Butchers, an lots of interesting things to eat.....and with no public subsidy, just some local entrepreneurs investing in their community.

ObserverApril 30th 2011.

Well said, Steve. I have just looked this story up on the Daily Post and there is nothing but gushing enthusiasm from David Bartlett.

Kensington received £62 million did it not, and still looks as though its a shanty town in south America, but without the charm. Does the lavishly applauding local media (not Liverpool Confidential, thank god) think a £600k sweetener from one of the world's biggest retail names is going to make much of an impact, or are they just tarting up their back yard for when it opens?

1 Response: Reply To This...
HippyzenchickMay 1st 2011.

Have to agree with this and think Liverpool Confidential have at least had the balls to put the 'other' side to this story, whilst the other 'media' may be getting free bacon rolls each morning for their viewpoint!!

Yvonne BrownseaMay 1st 2011.

I don't think Park Road will end up empty of shops - I think it will simply end up with a different style of shops, such as the new Cash Generator opening there and I think other shops will open that don't have to compete with Tesco, but I do feel sorry for those hard working newsagents who've had their shops for years when Tesco take away all of their customer. I said a little while ago to my husband as well - how the cafe that's been there for years will be really pissed off when Tesco comes along and steals their custom. To be honest, I can't even picture Co-op sticking around too long when Tesco is open as who gonna pay up to 3 times as much per item with them when they can just pop over the road to Tesco and get it cheaper. They say they are going to help the area, but it will result in people losing their businesses which is just not fair. I'm only 28, but I miss the days where you could go to your local butcher, flower shop, fruit & veg shop, bakery, card shop, cafe etc. - the days before supermarkets. I liked having choice, not being forced to go to just the one place because nowhere else was left!

HippyzenchickMay 1st 2011.

In it together!

Prescot Tesco - Knowsley council had traffic diverted away from the town centre and directly into the retail park, there are rumours of Tesco owning the old town centre supermarket lease (Somerfield), which closed due to poor trade since Tesco opened, this still remains an empty store.

Grade II Listed Museum building in Prescot being sold off along with the Library - the 'hub' of communities. The social skills of interaction between customer and shop owner are disappearing. The older generation that lived in this 'hub' are fading away, leaving us with a face paced, quick purchase, everything we need under one roof kind of society.

For me, personally, I would prefer to pay an extra few pence for them small specific shops, the ones my mum used to shop in, but big supermarkets are making our fast paced life 'easier'. Do we stand up and shout? or sit back and say, yer, well it's bringing jobs?

double edged sword maybe?

1 Response: Reply To This...
Wil SavageMay 3rd 2011.

Will SavageMay 4th 2011.

I understand about the loss of jobs, shops and other amenities. The scandalous use of public funds: but what really is going on, behind the scenes......? What are the unseen and unheard of deals, what are the agreements between our LCC, Tesco and our be-knighted government......?

AnonymousMay 4th 2011.

great article.

lord sainsburyMay 4th 2011.

£600k is peanuts to Tesco. Ridiculous.

Philip CoppellMay 4th 2011.

We did manage to stop the great thug Tesco opening an express shop on Hope Street. Took a lot of effort though and Tesco got to open another one on London Raod instead.

Michael MyersMay 5th 2011.

There was a lot of snobbery at work over the Hope Street Tesco.

What a shame that places like London Road market and ParK Road, where real Liverpool people and livelihoods are at risk, do not have people with the clout of, say, the Philharmonic Hall board lobbying at a high level on their behalf.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Philip CoppellMay 5th 2011.

We did try to stop all Tesco developments, not just Hope Street, but you cannot beat the money Tesco throw at these hings.

Robert EelsMay 16th 2011.

Meant to say what an insightful article this is when I read it a few weeks ago, Tony, but now it has been completely ripped off by some blog today (who are probably taking a back-hander) I have returned to say well done! I too think that not enough questions have been asked by our lazy press.

Tony BartonJuly 18th 2011.

Tony Barton
Tesco is like the supreme predator of its domain: the great white shark, the tiger, the lion. It hunts down and kills its competitors and prey alike with a ruthless and calculated method. Tesco has fooled, bullied or bribed its way into our society with promises of employment, regeneration and community cohesion. In fact anything that seems attractive to an area, especially if its a deprived and vulnerable area. On second thoughts Tesco is not a predator, it is a virus that will suck the life out of communities and eventually, when there is nothing left for it to feed on it will move on to the next victim. We are all to blame for not curing this disease and allowing it to exist, only for us to develop a terminal illness, Tescoitis, which will be the death of us all.

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