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Two sides to the Tesco coin

PUBLISHED: 15:12 14 May 2008 | UPDATED: 08:57 13 July 2010

MY PERSONAL dislike of Tesco was cemented back in the days of the Dame Shirley Porter corruption scandal.

The Tesco heiress, and former leader of Westminster Council, played a key role in a scheme that sold off council homes to potential Conservative voters

in the 1980s and she was

accused of "disgraceful and improper gerrymandering"

by district auditor John

Magill.

MY PERSONAL dislike of Tesco was cemented back in the days of the Dame Shirley Porter corruption scandal.

The Tesco heiress, and former leader of Westminster Council, played a key role in a scheme that sold off council homes to potential Conservative voters

in the 1980s and she was

accused of “disgraceful and improper gerrymandering”

by district auditor John

Magill.

It may well be unfair of me, but that outrageous episode confirmed all my outstanding prejudices; I don't like and distrust people and businesses which have a lot of power and money.

Sadly, as well as being prejudiced, I'm a hypocrite. I can't stand Tesco but I've spent thousands of pounds there over the years.

Tesco, bless its cotton-rich

(three pairs for a fiver) socks, is extremely good at what it does. Its vast empire can offer virtually everything under one roof and economies of scale, which is exactly what is needed by me and millions of other customers similarly strapped for time and cash.

And they employ people - I wouldn't mind betting there was no shortage of would-be staff queuing in Aylsham last weekend when Tesco held recruitment sessions for its new store in the town.

So I tend to squirm uncomfortably when the ever-smouldering Great Tesco Debate flares up again somewhere in north Norfolk.

I'm right behind the anti crowd because I hate 'em too and don't want their ugly great stores wrecking the aesthetics and dynamics of rural north

Norfolk.

And I entirely sympathise with the pro brigade who simply don't have the time or spare pennies to saunter up and down the high street, wicker basket on their arm, trying to afford a week's family shopping without having to default on the mortgage repayments.

But perhaps I've stumbled on a compromise.

Last week, Tesco successfully reeled me in on one of their enticingly-baited hooks. “Use our online shopping service and we'll give you 1,000 Clubcard points,” they said.

So, for the first time, I ordered our week's shopping via my computer, filling my trolley in their virtual store.

The process was as thumpingly dull as a real visit to the supermarket. There was a delivery charge, but it would probably have cost more in petrol to drive to Sprowston and back - and wasted even more life.

And, comfortably within my chosen delivery time slot, cheery, efficient and helpful Steven drew up outside our house in his Tesco van.

Steven carried in plastic trays of my shopping which he took away again when I had emptied them on to the kitchen table -no wasteful carrier bags.

The cold stuff was still chilled, the use-by dates were all perfectly acceptable and only one item was unavailable, which I could have chosen to have substituted.

So how about the whole of north Norfolk signing up for home deliveries? That way the pros get their cheaper Tesco goods and choice while the antis (too late for Aylsham unfortunately) don't have to suffer a whacking warehouse-style building in their midst.

“But we don't all have the technology,” I hear you say. Well there's a simple answer to that. All we need is someone to buy every household a computer with internet access, and fund one-to-one training in how to use them.

It would take a very rich organisation indeed to afford that sort of outlay. And it would need to be one apparently determined to make money out of north Norfolk. Now, where could we find that sort of business...?

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