Joanna Blythman's exposé of  Tesco steamrolling its way in Bristol (Tesco gets its way far too easily, Second Opinion) raises an important issue that goes to the heart of our democracy.

A similar situation has arisen in Ashtead, Surrey, where, following widespread and strong local opposition from residents, Tesco has had two planning applications refused. In a village of 10,000 adults, 6,000 people have signed petitions opposing Tesco's applications and more than 1,000 have submitted written objections.

Bur Tesco continues to want to go where it is not welcome and now wants to use its financial muscle to appeal against those refusals. Local authorities, of course, are reluctant to incur the heavy legal costs necessary to oppose supermarket applications and the inevitable outcome is that supermarkets can afford to get their way eventually.

Ashtead's residents feel that if Tesco's application is approved, there would be a major and irreversibly detrimental impact on the character and amenity of the village. The residents' association has launched an appeal to raise funds from residents in order to employ a planning specialist and barrister to fight Tesco at a public Inquiry in July.

In the week of a general election, it is ironic that the wishes of the majority of the residents in a village may be subjugated by the size of Tesco's wallet.

A concerned Ashtead resident

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