Scarborough protest letters are mostly fake claims Tesco

The proposed Tesco developmentThe proposed Tesco development
The proposed Tesco development
PROTESTERS making a last ditch bid to stop Tesco building near Scarborough town centre were accused of fabricating many of the letters of objection.

It was claimed at the public inquiry that out of more than 6,000 complaints about the scheme only a few hundred could definitely be regarded as genuine.

The claims followed a trawl by the supermarket through every single objection letter which triggered the four-day hearing at Scarborough Spa.

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Traders and residents have fought for four years under the banner of STATS (Scarborough Town Against Tesco Store) to stop the company developing on the former St Mary’s Hospital site and council depot on Dean Road, planning consent for which was granted last year. But STATS regrouped and encouraged objectors to bombard the Department of Transport with complaints about a partial road closure needed for the scheme, largely based around people filling in their names and addresses on a standard letter.

Tesco barrister Reuben Taylor said: “A number of objections have been received, the majority from members of the public on a number of ‘pro-forma’ letters. Once those who purportedly signed letters were engaged in this way, it became clear than many of those who had apparently signed letters of objection had not. Only some 356 have confirmed that they wish their objection to remain. Others have indicated in clear terms that they had never objected to the stopping up. The vast majority simply have not responded at all.”

He made clear Tesco was not prepared to let the matter rest there and it would become a crucial part of the public inquiry.

“The applicant intends to explore the genesis of the letters of objection with the witness proffered on behalf of STATS,” he told the hearing.

STATS will respond to the claims during the course of the inquiry but has made clear outside the hearing that it will deny the allegations.