Dear Editor, The myth that supermarkets coming to an area are some kind of silver bullet for regeneration, as suggested in your article (Januray 26), should be dispelled.
Whilst they may offer some sweeteners in terms of paying for “public realm benefits”, they are taking custom away from local businesses as we are not buying more food, just from different places.
This means there is a net loss of jobs when a new supermarket opens and family businesses are lost at the expense of low paid jobs, which people can only afford to survive on if given a “working family tax credit” by the government to top up their income. Hard working families are subsidising these companies to make massive profits and real local economic benefits are not going to come when profits don’t remain to be invested back into the area.
Despite the Competition Commission saying there needed to be a supermarket watchdog four years ago, this has still not been introduced and supermarkets have remained free to exploit suppliers by transferring all their costs and risks onto them, undermining farmers’ abilities to pay employees a living wage or invest in more sustainable farming practices.
Rather than just giving the green light to any supermarket that shows up with a planning application, councils should be looking for innovative, entrepreneurial solutions that will provide real community benefits and a more sustainable local economy.
Joe Peacock, Birmingham Friends of the Earth