Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Checkout #14, please

#rdgnews - Tesco's remarkable recent growth in the local area has lead to suspicion of backroom favours and secret deals are propping up political interests at the expense of local businesses.

The decision to award a £27m contract for a new 84,000-sq m. distribution centre to Vinci Construction UK on the site of the former Courage brewery in Whitley was greeted by a delighted Chris Pape, who talked up the prospects of creating as many as 1,000 new jobs at the site.

The Worton Grange location was chosen after campaigners forced the rejection of plans for a 'mega-shed' outside Andover. Planning permission was hurriedly granted by RBC in September 2010 after the collapse of the previous proposal, however Vinci won the contract from the retail giant with a promise to go beyond compliance with BREEAM enviromental regulations and cut CO2 emissions by an additional 1/3.

Meanwhile controversy is brewing over the ways which Tesco is able to flex corporate muscle to get planning decisions granted following the refusal on appeal for a 14th store within borough limits, hot on the heels of a 13th store on the site of the former Westside pub in Tilehurst Road.

Local traders complained about the impact on their business and on the visual coherence of the area, which includes Grade-II listed buildings and the adjoining Christchurch Conservation Area, "It would have ruined the look of the entire parade along here."

Commenters on Reading Forum are understandably underwhelmed by the supermarket chain's drive to build an effective local monopoly on the grocery trade, and note recent bad corporate decisions are based on personality rather than sound economic reasoning.

Politicians are also naturally keen to express their positions, and Katesgrove councillors have been anxious to show their democratic credentials in an area promising to be a fiercely contested electoral battle-ground.

LibDem Cllr Warren Swaine spoke against the plans at the appeal hearing, calling the Tesco shop 'excessive' and saying it was 'the wrong location and the wrong building'.

And Labour's Cllr Matt Rodda said, "I hoped I helped as I successfully pushed for more time for residents to feed in comments. I also wrote in myself raising concerns with the inspector," - claims which Cllr Swaine challenged in an extensive blog post after recieving the reply to a Freedom of Information request proving his counterpart is either deluded or attempting to decieve the public.

PR consultant and Internet Psychologist, Graham Jones, discusses the issue of playing to the prejudices of an audience and saying different things to different people, noting how contradictory attitudes can easily be simulated - or covered up - via mixed-messaging in the media.
He provides some powerful insight, stating,
"If someone is unwilling to accept any official story for whatever reason, then it appears changing their mind with logical argument is unlikely as they will counter such debate with illogical and contradictory claims, without seeing the nonsense of their viewpoint."
Graham follows up with another of his excellent-as-standard posts, explaining some of the reasons why people are 'economical with the truth'. According to research, the behavioural incentives for honesty are increased by a reduction in use of feedback mechanisms where cooperation is required, but this can prove counter-productive in competitive situations.

He adequately sums things up, warning decreases in truthfulness at the top of society are undermining trust in authority more generally.

In a perfect demonstration of this theory the Green Party's Adrian Windisch earlier complained that Reading's transformation into 'Tesco-town' is the consequence of a stitch-up between Tories, Labour and LibDems, who he says are all aligned in their common support for the 'leviathan'.

And the consequences have been writ large in grafitti on the walls of a similar new convenience store in Twyford as vandals are repeatedly targetting Tesco for developing a building campaigners had long earmarked for a desperately-needed new library.

Elsewhere Wendy also wonders about the impact of split-personality disorders.

Oranjepan asks:
the establishment stimulates an extremist conspiracy, is it accidental, necessary or deliberate?

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