Friday, 3 December 2010

Cheese and Grain meeting report

Wednesday's meeting at the Cheese & Grain drew a huge audience of around 400, and saw an animated 90-minute debate about what's planned for Frome. It reflected a mixture of concern and hostility about St James's Investments plans for the Saxonvale site, and what another large supermarket would do to the town's small shops and unique atmosphere.

The speakers were Elizabeth Winkler, who's involved in the No Tescos In Stokes Croft campaign, Graham Burgess from Frome Civic Society, Frome resident and Guardian journalist John Harris - and Quentin Webster from St James's Investments (pictured). The latter parried a huge number of questions and points raised by people at the meeting, and voiced some very interesting opinions.

St James's Investments has a long history of working with Tesco - recently, for example, the two companies came together to work on a new Tesco at the Bath Press site in Bath. But Webster expressed a very interesting set of views about Tesco, questioning in particular their treatment of local communities.

Nonetheless, a new Tesco in Frome was not ruled out. Webster talked about the importance of consultation, but said that a large supermarket - "slightly smaller" than the much-maligned Tesco in Shepton Mallet - was effectively non-negotiable. Judging by many contributions from the floor, irrespective of which supermarket Frome may actually get - and we can presumably rule out Asda, Sainsbury's and Lidl -  it is this prospect that causes people such worry.

If you don't like the sound of what's being proposed, another meeting is planned for early in the new year, when a campaign will start to take shape. If you didn't give us your contact details last night, you can email them to


  1. Just wanted to add a few links for reference that people might find interesting:

    Ilminster suffers the same fate as Shepton:

    and here

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