We don't want you in our town, Tesco bosses told
SCORES of angry Portishead residents packed a public meeting to send a clear message to Tesco bosses – we don't want you in our town.
Around 100 people attended the consultation meeting last night, held by the company to discuss its plans to turn the former Royal Oak pub in West Hill into a Tesco Express.
The retail giant has signed a lease on the pub, which closed last year, with owners Enterprise Inns.
It plans to open the store in the New Year, creating 20 new jobs.
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Because the pub is classed as a retail business, no change of use planning permission is needed.
At the heated meeting resident and retired publican, Malcolm James, 66, who lives near the proposed store, said: "Tesco has caused problems in Bristol, a lot of upheaval in Weston and has now arrived in Portishead.
"There are more than 2,000 people who have signed a petition against the new store. Why don't you pack your bags, clean up after yourself and leave? You are not wanted here."
Other residents said the arrival of Tesco would signal the death knell for other businesses in the area.
West Hill resident Pat Gardener, 54, said: "Our little West Hill community is slowly dying and we are angry and fed up. We have lost our pub, our post office and our school already.
"A lot of people are against Tesco coming here as it will decimate the trade of existing shops.
"This is about the big boys walking in and all over the little people."
Other residents raised concerns about extra traffic, noise and antisocial behaviour.
A Tesco Action Group has already been set up to fight the proposals.
Chairman Paul Dunn said: "There is a real concern for road safety as Avon Way is a very busy road and the pub is on a blind bend. What is Tesco going to do to ensure people's safety?"
Tesco corporate affairs manager Sophie Akokhia said the store did not need planning permission and could 'start selling beans tomorrow' if it so wished. But she stressed the point of the meeting was to get feedback from local residents which could be used to shape the proposals.
The store is likely to open from either 6am to 10pm or 7am to 11pm, seven days a week.