A local group called SPASM (for Stop Pushing Around St Margarets) has been actively campaigning to make local Tesco conform with existing regulations and making sure the Richmond Council doesn’t pander to the retail giant’s whims unfairly.

To date the group has had some successes with limiting the times of the deliveries, but Tesco seems to stop conforming a few days after they promise to conform. It seems that Tesco wants to push the Council into allow them a larger loading bay and deliveries any time. On top of Tesco’s abuses it seems that a large number of Tesco shoppers are adding to the parking issues by parking illegally in the bus stop, loading zone and on Amyand & Broadway Roads (not to mention driving the wrong way on Broadway). The following article details the history and goals of SPASM and how we can all help.

( NOTE: the following is a lightly edited email from a SPASM founder )

History

It all started last October, when the Council tried to sneak the loading bay in.

A number of concerned local residents banded together, and formed SPASM. The action initially centred around a poster campaign and emails of complaint to the council. Annie Hambridge, our local councillor, has been very active in helping out.

In order to lend some credibility to the claims of disruption caused by illegal loading and parking outside Tesco, we decided to keep a record, and what better way than to make it accessible to all, hence the blog, updatebysms.blogspot.com.

Eventually some functionality was added to the blog, which enables people to text in details of loading/parking problems, and for it to appears directly in the blog.

Initially, SPASM got little joy from the Council, but after a number of newspaper articles, and a Freedom of Information Act request to get the details of what the Council had said to Tesco, a truce was declared.

Tesco would have one main delivery at about 6:30am in the morning, with a quick bread delivery later in the day.

And amazingly, it worked — Matthew Hill, the Council’s representative, crowed thus on 3rd March 2005:

“I hope you will agree that the removal of a daily delivery around 1pm is a significant improvement and demonstrates the effort that both Tesco and the Council are putting in to ensure that Tesco can operate harmoniously with its neighbours in the borough.”

And yet, after a few weeks, the lorries started turning up at all hours again.

The Council’s Reaction?

From Matthew Hill, of the Richmond Council:

“In late March Tesco informed us that they were unable to deliver the required volume of stock without a further fresh food delivery. This extra delivery was therefore programmed for 8pm to ensure it missed the busiest times of day in traffic terms.

In mid April, the Council received a complaint from a nearby resident regarding noise nuisance from both early morning and late evening deliveries from Tesco."

So now they propose deliveries only between 9am and 4:30pm — which still interferes with the rush hour, and school pick up.

So, What is SPASM Proposing?

Quite simply, Tesco should abide by the existing regulations – There is a loading bay large enough for a big Transit van (of the size that Carlos has) – The country’s most profitable retailer should get some, and deliver within the 20 minutes allowed to everyone else.

What should not happen is that the Council pander to Tesco’s every whim, and allow them to bring juggernauts into our community.

We already have a big problem with people passing through who park in the loading bay, and the bus stop, to get cash out or shop in Tesco – Both of these are illegal, and cause major traffic disruption (particularly if a local retailer actually needs to load using the loading bay)

What Can People Do?

First off, there are two people to write to ask the Council to enforce current restrictions (i.e. “a Transit van for 20 minutes, and no parking”):

Second, we need to keep a record of what is going on outside the shop. So that means photos (email to spasm_2004@hotmail.com ), and real time reports by SMS of cars/lorries etc that are illegally parked or waiting – That includes Tesco lorries that are far too wide for the loading bay.

To SMS the blog, all people have to do is text STM and a message to 07900435322 (i.e. STM there is a large Tesco lorry reg number XXX XXX parked for 1 hour in the loading bay).

Remember, Tesco is fighting a game of attrition. If they keep flouting the rules, they will get their own way. Maybe the campaigners will give up. They already have the Council doing their bidding, and will no doubt keep playing the “We’re a popular local resource – We have to inconvenience some residents” card. Bear in mind they installed the ATM (illegally), and used that argument to get retrospective planning permission ( Note: the Post Office had been told previously an ATM would be out of character with the village, and that any application would be refused ).