You say 'no' to Tesco

PUBLISHED: 13:02 30 January 2008 | UPDATED: 14:44 20 April 2010

SO many people turned out to voice their objections to Tesco's proposed relocation in Honiton during a public meeting that health and safety became an issue at the Mackarness Hall. More than 400 residents tried to cram into the town centre venue last Frid

SO many people turned out to voice their objections to Tesco's proposed relocation in Honiton during a public meeting that health and safety became an issue at the Mackarness Hall. More than 400 residents tried to cram into the town centre venue last Friday night, prompting mayor Councillor Vernon Whitlock to issue a safety warning before the meeting had even started. He urged campaigners left outside not to come into the building, but protesters insisted rows of seating be moved forward to allow more room at the back. The maximum number of people permitted to use the hall at any one time is 238. Those not able to find a seat filled every available space, including aisles at the sides of the building. Pat Perryman, Honitonian and world famous lace-maker, kept a record of numbers attending the event during the night. Feelings in the community were running so high that fire exits ended up being blocked and Councillor Whitlock was jeered when he said Honiton Town Council, which organised the meeting, had not expected such a huge turnout. Up to 50 people were left outside and inside space was so restricted that around 20 protesters stood behind the serving hatch in the hall's kitchen to listen to comments and take part in the debate. Councillor Whitlock, who has lived in Honiton for 30 years, said he was "gobsmacked" by the number of people who attended the meeting. He claimed it was an unexpected turnout, and the best attended public meeting held in Honiton since he moved to the town. He stressed the event was not a protest meeting, but a public event organised by the town council to give people a chance to have their say. Councillor Whitlock pointed out councillors were unable to publicly express their views on Tesco's application to relocate from Battishorne Way to an edge of town centre site at Ottery Moor Lane - for fear of prejudicing their vote on the issue. They will make their recommendation at a planning committee meeting on February 19, after taking residents' views into account. In the meantime, comments on the application have to be sent, in writing, to East Devon District Council and Honiton Town Council. Deadline for comments is February 15.

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