PHOTOS & VIDEO: Hundreds turn out to Westward Ho! Tesco protest
Hundreds of people turned out to protest against a proposed Tesco Express store in the village last night.
Residents, business owners and councillors attended the march which began under the anti-Tesco mural in the village car park.
Protestors armed themselves with signs and banners and marched through the village to Kingsley Hall where a meeting took place with Tesco representatives James Wiggam and Simon Petar.
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A meeting took place at Kingsley Hall following the march with Tesco corporate affairs managers, James Wiggam and Simon Petar.
The two were taken to task with various questions over the proposed store, which, if approved, will be where Sunshine Amusement currently is.
The meeting was chaired by Torridge district councillor Roger Tisdale who took questions from the crowd.
In his opening speech, Mr Wiggam said: “We are very keen to provide a store which we believe will be used by local people.
“It is an express store which will have the normal items you would expect.
“The actual premises already has existing consent for a store and that is one thing I am keen to explain to you. We could if we wanted put a store in there very quickly.”
One of the main concerns raised by members at the meeting surrounded the effect the Tesco store may have on local shops.
Many people argued that Westward Ho! already has everything it needs and that a Tesco would bring nothing new.
Amy Hart, who works at the Co-Operative store in the village, said: “I do not think it should be allowed. We have enough shops already. We get lots of feedback from Co-Op customers and they don’t want another shop coming.”
But Mr Wiggam responded that Tesco could offer a new range of produce in addition to what is already available.
The question was also asked about whether Tesco had thought about people who may lose their jobs as a result of the store coming.
Mr Wiggam said: “It is something that we consider very hard before we look at any location.
“The store would create 20 jobs. We are very proud of our own policies and how we treat our people. They are jobs we would be targeting at local people.”
Mandy Roberts commented on the effect the store may have on the village.
“If you open up this store I believe you will make Westward Ho! a ghost town,” she said.
Mr Wiggam responded: “The building is not adding much to the village as it is. What we think we can provide is something that is sympathetic to the village.
“It is in our interest to make sure we have a vibrant village. It is not in our interest for Westward Ho! to become a ghost town.”
A statement was also read from Torridge MP Geoffrey Cox who was unable to make the meeting.
It said: "I share Westward Ho! residents' concerns at the proposal of Tesco to move into the village.
"Westward Ho! has a thriving independent retail sector which lends diversity and life to the community, and which, I believe, may be put at risk by the arrival of a commercial giant such as Tesco in the village with its formula Tesco Express outlet.
"I am sorry that I cannot be there this evening because of a long planned family occasion.
"However, I hope that the Tesco management and those advising them will think again before embarking on this unpopular project. I hope to meet the representatives of Tesco soon to discuss their plans."