The only postcode without a Tesco – but for how much longer?

Jonathan Brown reports from Harrogate on the last resistance to the supermarket

Harrogate

In the annals of heroic last stands the name of Harrogate is unlikely to live on alongside those of Little Bighorn or Thermopylae.

Click HERE to view graphic (167k jpg)

For when, as seems likely next week, the genteel Yorkshire spa town finally agrees to yield its status as the last postcode in Britain not to host a Tesco supermarket, it will go down not with a bang but with a whimper. The expected decision by councillors will bring to an end four years of work by the retail behemoth and mark the completion of its geographic domination of Britain.

Locals say opposition has been effectively ground away by the vicissitudes of the planning system and Tesco's patient determination to convert the site of an old gasworks on a roundabout in the town's northern suburbs into a 24-hour superstore.

At the Number One Shop on Electric Avenue, which has been run by the Patel family for the past four years, there was a weary acceptance that it could do little to stop the juggernaut set to open next door.

"If it is going to come it is going to come," said Viral Patel, 27. "But at the end of the day it is down to the local people. Some are against it because it is Tesco but some are not. The noise will affect the neighbours and some are worried their gardens will be overlooked but we will just have to wait and see."

Sue Pearce, 58, and Hayley Mep-ham, 29, of Autumn Pine Interiors agreed there was little left in the way of ideological opposition to the new arrival. "It has been implied that Harrogate is too posh for Tesco but it is not that," said Mrs Pearce. "The entrance will be right in front of our shop and it will finish us off. The roadworks will go on for months. There is a little bit of pride in Harrogate that we haven't got one but in the end they are all-powerful," she said.

Technically, Harrogate has had two Tesco Expresses for a number of years but the superstore will give it a large scale presence alongside Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda Waitrose and the Co-Op.

Opponents are still holding out for the matter to be referred to Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles by the Health and Safety Executive because of concerns over the old eight-acre gas site purchased by Tesco nearly eight years ago for £3.5m. But most concede the game is up.

Despite a spirited start, the online campaign blog against the proposal has not been updated since 2007 and Tesco now claims it has the support of 70 per cent of residents for a scaled-down version of its original plan.

The supermarket's corporate affairs manager Matthew Magee said 220 people had written to the council in support. "We're pleased to be at this stage and are hopeful that councillors will approve the application," he said.

The Harrogate Advertiser has been running a website entitled The Great Tesco Debate which currently shows opposition outstripping support for the new store by 54 per cent to 46 per cent. Chief reporter Vicky Carr said: "This has been going on for four years now and to begin with there was a great deal of debate and people got quite enthusiastic about opposing it. But since it has dragged on people have lost that enthusiasm," she said.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Account Manager - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing, ambitious, en...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future
Berlusconi's world of sleaze: The astonishing lifestyle once enjoyed by Italy's former PM

Berlusconi's world of sleaze

The astonishing lifestyle once enjoyed by Italy's former PM
Disney plans galactic domination with endless Star Wars spin-offs

Disney plans galactic domination with endless Star Wars spin-offs

Films and theme parks are just the beginning. Disney believes its control of the now decades-old franchise can bring in merchandise and marketing millions for years to come
Could the golden age of the gaming arcade ever be revived in the era of the Xbox?

Could gaming arcades be revived?

The days when coin-ops were the only way to play the latest video games are gone. But a small band of enthusiasts are keeping the button-pushing dream alive
Edinburgh Fringe 2015: The 'tampon tax' has inspired a new wave of female comedians to reclaim period jokes

Heard the one about menstruation?

Yes, if you have been at the Fringe, where period pieces are taking centre stage