Call to stop supermarkets pushing out local shops

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New planning rules should be introduced to help stop the “relentless onslaught” of retail giants opening mini supermarkets on high streets, campaigners have told MSPs.

Ellie Harrison, of Say No To Tesco, told Holyrood’s public petitions committee that small, family-owned businesses were closing because of the competition from the big-name stores.

Alison  Johnstone. Picture: Bill Henry

Alison Johnstone. Picture: Bill Henry

She said firms such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco could open Local and Express outlets without needing planning permission so long as they took over existing shops. And retail impact assessments – outlining to planners the effect on other shops in the area – were only required for much larger supermarkets.

She called for councils to be given more powers to stop “unwanted supermarket expansion”.

The Evening News told yesterday how Mohammed Hanif is to close his News Corner shop in Howe Street, which first opened in 1941, because business has declined following the opening of a Sainsbury’s nearby.

Lothian Green MSP Alison Johnstone backed the petition. She said many independent businesses simply could not survive against the buying power of the big stores. She said: “This is not about being anti-supermarket, this is about choice and variety.”

The committee agreed to gather more information before considering the petition further.