Tesco victory highlight of chamber chairman's year

THE formidable case" put forward by Honiton to defeat a Tesco store-bid in the town has been rated amongst a business leader's highlights of the past year.

THE "formidable case" put forward by Honiton to defeat a Tesco store-bid in the town has been rated amongst a business leader's highlights of the past year. Outgoing chairman of Honiton and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry Ralph Hibbert, in his last ever annual report to members, praised the efforts of traders, the Ottery Moor Lane residents' protest group and the town council in seeing off the supermarket giant's application for a bigger store. He said: "I think we can congratulate ourselves together - Tesco did not raise any objections within the 40 days of losing their appeal. We can now relax until they make another application. "I must say a special thanks to chamber member Mandy Newman, who stepped in at the last moment to present the chamber objections to the Tesco appeal on my behalf." Mr Hibbert expressed regret over the loss of the town's Marks and Spencer Simply Food store, in Lace Walk, which closed on March 5, and also praised November's Remembrance Day service and the "better than ever" Christmas tree and lights outside St Paul's Church and late-night shopping event. Special praise was reserved for the "untiring, enthusiastic and effective" work of Honiton Tourist Information Centre director and chairman Colin Wright. Mr Hibbert said: "Without his input, it is absolutely possible that Honiton TIC would not exist." Encouraging steps in developing a "very good relationship" between the chamber and the town council were also praised and it is hoped future talks will help "improve Honiton and make it more attractive to both residents and visitors". Mr Hibbert labelled his time as chamber chairman "an honour" and explained: "I said I would see the Tesco affair through. I expected to be relieved of my post in about November or December but, as you see, I am still here. "However, a replacement has been found and I am more than happy to remain as a committee member and TIC chamber director.


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