CALLS for the boycott of Milngavie’s Tesco store rose to a crescendo this week as people vented their anger at the supermarket chain’s plans for the town.
Shoppers have said they are prepared to vote with their feet - and their wallets - and withdraw custom if the multinational does not back down over its plans for a monster redevelopment.
Your Milngavie and Bearsden Herald revealed last week that people attending the AGM of campaign group We Like Milngavie (WLM), which was set up to oppose Tesco’s expansion scheme, voted to support a boycott of the store.
The vote was an ‘indicative’ one, expressing the feeling of the meeting, and not the current position of WLM - but the Herald has been inundated with letters and e-mails - some of which are published in today’s paper - demanding a boycott is put in place.
Some shoppers said they have ALREADY begun to withdraw their custom from the store.
Prominent Bearsden businesswoman Tatjana Hine OBE, a former chair of the Central Scotland Chamber of Commerce, summed up the views of many, writing: “I am very much in favour of a boycott on Milngavie Tesco.
“We have other shops that we can shop at in the area and a lengthy boycott might just make them see sense. We do use Tesco at least weekly, but it will not be drastic to change.”
Marion Ramsay, from Milngavie, said: “Boycotting of the Tesco store by withholding custom is the obvious next step in the campaign.
“Boycotting is not an easy option but it is an effective one as Tesco management will take notice when their sales and profits drop.
“Boycotting demands discipline to change your shopping patterns which may be ingrained and habitual but it can be done. Already this week, I made a profitable trip to Asda which was enjoyable and also bought more from local shops.
“Poundstretcher will be opening soon which will help. So, it can be done.”
However, politicians and WLM itself said that while they are not backing an official boycott yet, they haven’t ruled it out.
WLM’s John Edwards said: “A boycott is one of the options we would seriously consider if Tesco don’t heed the views of the people of Milngavie. But we hope that they will listen to reason and work with the whole community to get the right outcome for everyone”.
Milngavie MSP Gil Paterson said: “Boycotts can work, but it may be a bit early for that. It’s good that the public are reacting, it’s their community and it’s up to them to vote with their feet and I wouldn’t stand in their way. My job is to represent people’s views.
“However, I think this might be a bit too early. This shows the strength of feeling in the town - Tesco has to understand that people are not against Tesco per se, They are not against change, but they want their community respected, and that’s the message Tesco should understand. People don’t want a factory in their town centre.
“But I feel there is still time for Tesco to make the changes needed to bring the community on board.
“I think aiming in Tesco’s direction is fine, but it’s still a bit too early to pull the trigger.”
East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson said: “Tesco remain determined to push their plans forward for a completely unsuitable store double its current size, which goes against the views of local people.
“Community pressure is vital if the supermarket continues to push plans forward without taking local voices into account, and a show of consumer power is definitely one way to make Tesco listen. However any action must be well-organised and co-ordinated with the help of community groups such as We Like Milngavie if it is to be successful.”
Tesco has provoked outrage over its plans to dramatically increase the size of the Gavin’s Mill operation.
Despite being previously knocked back by both East Dunbartonshire Council and the Scottish Government, it has been accused of refusing to scale back its vision - and listen to the views of the community - as it prepares to submit a new planning application.
Protestors have claimed that a monster new shop will leach the life from Milngavie Precinct.
Tesco declined to comment.
What do you think? Would you support a boycott?
E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know or send letters to the Herald office at 27 Stewart Street, Milngavie G62 6BW.