MP's call over stores moving into empty pubs
NORTH Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox is to call for a review of legislation which allows supermarket chains to open shops in empty pubs.
Dr Fox will write to Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, following moves by Tesco to take over the former Royal Oak pub in West Hill, Portishead, to turn it into an Express Store.
The retailer plans to open the store, which will create 20 new jobs, seven days a week up.
Under current legislation, the supermarket giant does not need permission to open a store as the building already has the required permission as a pub. Tesco has taken over a number of empty pubs across the Bristol area and turned them into Express stores.
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But residents in West Hill have reacted angrily to the plans, telling Tesco they are not welcome.
They fear the arrival of the supermarket will decimate other local businesses.
They also fear the store will lead to an increase in traffic.
A petition containing more than 2,000 names has already been collected and a Tesco Action Group set up.
Dr Fox, pictured, said: "We do not need a Tesco in West Hill, Portishead. We already have a local store that serves the area perfectly well.
"It is all very well to have more choice but there is a feeling from residents that this is a predatory move by Tesco."
Dr Fox said he had held meetings with Tesco and told them to rethink their plans.
He added: "Portishead is not poorly served by big stores.
"No one wants buildings left sitting derelict, but there is definitely a feeling among local residents that this store will put other businesses out of business.
"I am going to write to the Secretary of State asking whether there is a need to review this legislation which allows stores to take over pubs without a change of use application."
Tesco has already opened Express stores in redundant pubs in Bristol and say they are amongst their most popular outlets, serving between 6,000 and 8,000 customers a week.