Mary Portas accuses ex-Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy of 'talking crap' over disappearance of butchers from British high streets

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Mary Portas has accused former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy of "talking crap" for claiming that the disappearance of family butchers from the high streets is a sign of progress.

Portas, the retail expert tasked by the Government with revitalising Britain's high streets, hit back at Sir Terry for saying that supermarkets forcing small butchers out of business was "the best way of ensuring that the better organisations come through".

The presenter of the Channel 4 series, Mary Queen of the High Street, told Radio Times: "That's absolutely crap. What happens is that 50p of every pound is spent on food. If you take that off the high street and put it into a 40,000ft out-of-town store and you provide free parking and everything under one roof, then you start to take away not only the food shops, but also the chemist, the fashion shops, the butcher… you start to displace the whole high street. Even if the butcher at that supermarket isn't good, it's so convenient."

Portas also hit back at criticism of her Portas Pilots, designed to reinvigorate the high street. So far 27 towns have received taxpayer funding but progress has been slow and the scheme has faced accusations of wasting money, such as spending more than £1,600 to hire a Peppa Pig costume for the day in Dartford.

"Why do the newspapers write about Peppa Pig?" Portas said. "They should be writing about the women in Bedminster, Bristol, who started up a new creche where women can come for a coffee and recycle their kids' toys. But no, they want to talk about Peppa Pig. I'm sad that they are belittling the... project. "