Warwick District Council has thrown its weight behind the ongoing campaign for Tesco to lower its prices at its store in Leamington town centre.
At a council meeting on Wednesday night, councillors voted unanimously in favour of signing a letter to Tesco to urge the company to rethink its decision to 'rebrand' the store in the Parade, which has led to the company rising some prices.
A campaign has been running since August after Tesco changed the store from a Metro to an Express a month earlier.
Warwick and Leaminton MP Matt Western has supported the campaign, criticising Tesco for after 'overnight price hike' of nearly 20 per cent on some products at the branch.
And he has joined campaigners who have been regularly protesting outside the store.
Speaking at the council meeting, protestor Peter Glanfield said: "In March this year Tesco announced that they would re-brand all 147 of their Metro stores. The small ones would become Express stores (89) - and the large ones would become Superstores (58).
"In July Tesco then very surprisingly re-branded the store in the Parade as an ’Express’ store.
"These are small local convenience stores normally with no more than about two or three checkouts.
"The store in the Parade is huge - 23,000 square feet with 22 check-outs.
"Tesco own the property and it has given superb and successful service to the town centre community over more than five decades.
"The shop sells a very wide range of food as well as household items, is unique in its size and scale in the town centre and has almost no real competition.
"When it was designated an ‘Express’ store all the prices rose significantly overnight by an average of around 15 per cent above the prices previously charged which have always been the same as the store in Emscote Road. Identical items up by 15 per cent on average."
Mr Glanfield highlighted some of the prices rises:
- A 420gram tin Tesco baked beans up 17 per cent - from 30p to 35p.
- A 1kg bag of baby potatoes up 22 per cent from £1.15 to £1.40
- One hundred and twenty Tetley tea bags are up by 14 per cent from £2.49 to £2.85
- A 750ml bottle of Tesco bleach is up 28 per cent from 39p to 50p
"The average rise across the board about 15 per cent - maybe more," he added.
"Nothing is cheaper in the Parade store – however the newspapers and the Tesco sandwich meal-deals are the same prices as Emscote Road.
"The shop is used by local residents many of whom are old or vulnerable and who visit it very regularly on foot or using a bus. There are bus stops immediately outside the store entrance.
"The shopping habits of most pensioners are largely determined by the weight of the items they can carry home - and the cash they have available on the day.
"This is definitely not ‘convenience shopping’.
"They [customers] do their ‘main food shopping’ by visiting the store regularly throughout the week.
"Small convenience stores do usually charge a bit more – they might be privately owned or be part of a large chain.
"However, by no stretch of anyone’s imagination is the huge Tesco in the Parade a small convenience store.
"The people who walk or bus to the store have been targeted and hit with huge price rises.
"Most of them cannot shop elsewhere - they are angry.
"What’s more, our community is really upset because of the unnecessary pain that has been inflicted on our older residents.
"At a time of heightened awareness of the environment and climate change it is also entirely wrong for local Leamington residents to pay less if they have a car and use it to shop out of town."
As we have been reporting, campaigners have protested outside the store for three months.
"One thousand angry shoppers have already signed our petition," said Mr Glanfield.
"The petition is demanding that the shop is re-designated as a ‘superstore’ , which will mean that the prices will immediately revert to the same as those at the out-of-town Emscote Road Tesco.
"I am asking you to support our community and to get Tesco, very reasonably, to designate the Parade store as a superstore.
"This is a real community issue, not a political one.
"So let’s put politics aside, come together and, unanimously, urge Tesco to do the right thing and correctly designate their store in the Parade as a superstore."
Cllr Andrew Day, the leader of the district council, asked councillors from all parties to sign the letter - which will be sent to Tesco bosses - and they agreed to do this.