Revealed, controversial email Seaton mayor Sandra Semple sent to Tesco

PUBLISHED: 16:44 19 February 2010 | UPDATED: 00:57 16 June 2010

SEATON town mayor Sandra Semple has given the Herald a copy of her controversial email to Tesco, which led to demands for her resignation from the Regeneration Programme Board.

SEATON town mayor Sandra Semple has given the Herald a copy of her controversial email to Tesco, which led to demands for her resignation from the Regeneration Programme Board.

In the email she wrote:

I have a query about how Tesco ensures best value for its shareholders.

Here in Seaton, Devon (population just over 7,000) Tesco has already paid to buy an 18 hectare floodplain:

£22 million for a derelict caravan site on the floodplain;

£11 million to demolish a holiday camp to buy an adjoining floodplain site plus the cost of demolishing it;

£2 million (at least - a guess) to work up a planning application for a 65,000 sq ft store and up to 300 houses £10 million to bring 750,000 tons of infill by sea to raise the floodplain and 250,000 tons of infill by road to raise the floodplain

2.1 metres (so far;

£2 million to purchase an easement over land to the site -an unknown amount of money to build a "test dam" on the site to see if it can withstand infill by sea. The cost of an extensive Environmental Impact Assessment to see if infill by sea is possible (bearing in mind this is World Heritage Jurassic Coast.

My question is: why would Tesco spend around a minimum of £50 million - almost certainly more - on this site even before a brick is laid, in a town with only around 7,000 people, off the beaten track and with 14 Tesco stores within 26 miles - two of them (large ones being extended) being in adjacent towns? Has your Corporate Governance department sanctioned this sum and, if so, what on earth is the justification for making this what must be one of the most expensive Tesco stores in the world?

Tony Fletcher, corporate affairs manager for Tesco, replied:

Dear Mrs Semple

Thank you for your email addressed to our board of directors. I am aware that our property team have publicly explained our plans for our store in Seaton in detail in addition to meeting you personally. I would make no comment on your calculations and guesstimates of our expenditure.

Cllr Semple then asked him to forward the message onto board members and Mr Fletcher assured her it had been done.

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