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Lyme Bay v Tesco

The Lyme Bay Holiday Village at Seaton in Devon, hosted Cled Griffin's Keyboard Experience Festivals from 2003 to 2008 when Tesco bought the site.  It is alleged they bought the site when they became aware that their competitors, Sainburys, wanted to build a store on adjacent ground.

The following report is adapted from one written in "The Independent' to whom full credit is given.   The report reveals the background story and why Tesco is considered an alleged dirty word in Seaton.

Organ-keyboard enthusiasts experienced six years of glorious festivals at Lyme Bay - two each year, one in February and the other in October, making a total twelve events altogether. Included were the British Keyboard Player Awards conducted in conjunction with the originators of OrganFAX.

Many enthusiasts consider the Lyme Bay Keyboard Experiences to be the best ever festivals - now sadly happy memories.   We therefore think that keyboard enthusiasts deserve to know the background story which lead to its closure in 2008.

Lyme Bay Holiday Village - gone for ever

Sandwiched between the red and white cliffs of the Jurassic Coast and surrounded by acres of unspoilt saltmarsh, the Devon resort of Seaton has prided itself on its status as a serene backwater whose last serious skirmish with an unwanted invader was 700 years ago when it supplied Edward I with ships and sailors to fight off the French. 

However,  the 7,500 inhabitants of the town on the south Devon coast have now fought and lost a new battle after Tesco bought its largest employer, a holiday village, and promptly ordered its closure. The site also housed Seaton's only nursery, catering for 35 children, and a swimming pool.

The 152 staff at the Lyme Bay Holiday Village received redundancy letters in 2008 informing them that the village, which hosted 40,000 people a year, would close to make way for a new development including a large supermarket, a visitor centre and tourist accommodation.

Residents accused the retail giant, which in 2007 made profits of nearly £2bn, of "breathtaking arrogance" by failing to present any firm proposals for the 15-hectare plot or a timetable for its redevelopment, meaning the town faces the prospect of being without a nursery or housing for the 80 holiday village staff who lived on the site.

Campaigners claim the company (Tesco), which has said it wants to help make Seaton a "sustainable tourism" centre, has failed to respond to requests for a meeting to discuss its plans and only exercised its option to buy the holiday village after Sainsbury's, expressed interest in acquiring land to build a store.

The head of a community group opposed to the plans, Stand Up 4 Seaton, said: "In one fell swoop, Tesco have bought up and shut down Seaton's single biggest source of employment and income. A lot of businesses in the town rely on the passing trade that the holiday village brings in. The people who live in the holiday village face being made homeless and working parents will have nowhere to leave their children. The nearest nursery will be 10 miles away. The village also has the only gym and swimming pool in a town with very few facilities.

"Tesco has done this without offering any assurances that these facilities will be replaced after the closure or indeed without putting forward any plans for what it wants to do afterwards.  It is acting with breathtaking arrogance. We have absolutely no guarantee whatsoever that Tesco will not bulldoze the holiday village, put a big fence around it and leave it untouched for a decade. (the photos on this page show that this now seems to be the case). They are throwing around their financial weight but we are determined not to stand for it."

One employee said before the closure: "We are not by any means a failing business. The village is very popular with the local community and there is a very solid demand throughout the year. There is a lot of ill-feeling that a good business is being closed down without anything firm to replace it."

If Tesco builds a store in Seaton it will be its tenth outlet within 22 miles. Residents have to travel 18 miles to reach one of its main competitors (Sainsbury's, Asda or Morrisons), but there is a Waitrose seven miles away.

Tesco said in a statement: "The regeneration of Seaton ... will bring significant and lasting benefits to the town, including new employment opportunities, with 250 or more new jobs being created by the new store, attractive shopping facilities and affordable housing. With regard to nursery provision, we are very happy to consider reproviding this service as part of the scheme in conjunction with private operators."

Photographs taken in 2010

News item - November 2011

Lyme Bay Holiday Village is now a Tesco Supermarket

Tesco officially opened their Seaton supermarket on 21st November 2011 following a controversial build period.  It seems that is it still not plain sailing as many consider the site, formerly the venue of many keyboard music festivals, to be on a flood plain.

Tescopoly, an organisation looking into the dominance of supermarkets (Tesco in particular), is looking closely at the situation.  The Tescopoly website claim that Tesco now controls over 30% of the grocery market in the UK. In 2010, the supermarket chain announced profits of £3.4bn. Growing evidence indicates that Tesco's success is partly based on trading practices that are having serious consequences for suppliers, farmers and workers worldwide, local shops and the environment.

If you are interested to read more about this you can do so by clicking on the following link:

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