Bristol bike shop owner: It's Tesco or decay
A Bristol shop-owner says not everyone is opposed to plans to turn a former comedy club into a Tesco.
Geoff Gardiner, who runs Fred Baker Cycles next to the former Jesters Comedy Club, in Stokes Croft, says it is "either Tesco or decay".
This week bailiffs were sent to evict squatters from the site, who have taken it over in protest at the supermarket's plans, but when the Evening Post went to print last night they had not yet been removed.
They first moved in at the start of February, putting up a sign that read: "Tesco – Every little hurts."
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Mr Gardiner, 40, said: "We are not anti Tesco, or pro Tesco. But not everyone around here is so against a Tesco opening up. The way I see it, it is either Tesco or decay. I can't see any other shop wanting to open up there with no parking allowed on the road outside.
"When I put bikes out in the morning, people often stop to have a chat and I have noticed that the squatters have been losing a lot of support because of this. A lot of people actually want a Tesco there."
He said the area needs a convenience store such as Tesco in the area, and believes it would not take trade away from other shops.
He said: "Local people won't shop there. It will be people that are passing, on their way home or on their way to get a bus, that shop there. And they are not people who would have shopped at the delicatessen or shops anyway – so I don't see how their trade will be affected.
"I want the area to be different to Park Street and Cribbs Causeway as much as anyone else, but I don't think that means Tesco can't come here."
Mr Gardiner said he has "no problems" with the squatters.
He said: "They have been very pleasant. I support the People's Republic of Stokes Croft and after I asked them to tell the squatters not to come onto our building, we had no trouble.
"But I was a little annoyed when the bailiffs came and they had barricaded themselves in, covering the pavement with furniture and rubbish – I think our takings were definitely down because of it."
Since the squatting group have occupied the building, they have been using it and offering it as a community space for concerts, meals and other events.
There has been a large amount of opposition to the decision to change the use of the club to a supermarket, and residents have claimed there was a lack of consultation.
Last month dozens of people marched along Cheltenham Road to show their support for the squatters and their opposition to Tesco.
Vandals have attacked two Tesco stores in the city centre. The shop in Church Road, Redfield, had its front window smashed and graffiti saying "No Tesco" painted on the walls, at about 9am on Tuesday.
That night, between 2am and 3am, windows at the Broadmead shop were smashed.
It is believed four people seen on bikes in the area may have been involved. Police say the two incidents may not be linked.