Traditionally, Foresters have been working-class and proud of it, and resolutely independent… so imagine our dismay to see local folks – many of whom had sent the government packing when it tried to privatise their woodland, and when the previous government had tried to shut their hospitals – marching IN FAVOUR of the world’s largest supermarket corporation owned by an extremely rich family from Arkansas, USA… in Cinderford, these pro-ASDA marchers, flying the flag of the Walmart family’s corporate logo, were claiming to speak for everyone and some were getting nasty and personal about Co-op employees, just because the Co-Op’s head office was trying to block the ASDA store from being built at the bottom of town… Some of us decided this just wasn’t on, and faced violent threats from one of the pro-Asda supporters as soon as we launched the No Asda In Cinderford campaign (https://www.facebook.com/NoAsdaInCinderford). Then the Co-op lost its application for a judicial review and the district council’s green light was on again… like the demolition of Northern United and the concreting over of forest and grassland, it’s presented at ‘regeneration’, despite the very likely potential of the out-of-town store giving people even less reason to enter the town centre.
Of course, it’s just coincidence that since Tesco came to Lydney that it no longer has an independent greengrocer or baker (while Cinderford has several bakers, plus several butcher’s and Keith’s greengrocer).
The same man who led an anti-Co-op campaign for a Tesco in Coleford (this one was turned down by the district council) had transferred his attentions on ensuring Cinderford got its Asda despite not coming from the town. Was he aware that Asda employees are typically paid much less than other supermarket workers, typically don’t last much time in the job and are prevented from joining trade unions? Did he care? Does anyone care as long as their food is a few pence cheaper?
The problem is, the Co-op is to the co-operative movement what the Labour Party is to socialism – a lame excuse for it. While ostensibly members may get a say, the fact that in Coleford it built an extension and filled it with a cafe despite there being other cafes in town, and in Cinderford helping to empty the town centre by taking various shops under its wing, hasn’t endeared it to foresters. No matter that in 1984/85, the Co-ops in the Forest donated food to striking miners in South Wales in a show of solidarity, the Midcounties Co-operative has strong protectionist and monopolist tendences, and does indulge in the exploitative measures the other supermarkets do, albeit not as appallingly as Walmart and Tesco do.
So, Tesco’s appeal has been adjourned thanks to the concerted actions of HOOT (Hands Off Our Towns), rightly complaining they hadn’t been properly consulted, and word reaches us of a meeting at the Bailey Inn, Yorkley next Tuesday, February 19, from 7.30pm. Richard Hadley from Tescopoly will talk about his successful campaign to block Tesco from Ledbury, and Laurie Moseley of Friends of the Forest will talk about environmental and legal issues.
We are now facing a third supermarket invasion – Sainsbury plans to build on Crump Farm on the edge of Lydney. Another death knell…
What would you have instead then? The supermarket fans might ask us. Well….
FOLKS ARE CREATING AN ALTERNATIVE…
Yorkley Court Community Farm plan to have grown enough vegetables to feed the entire Forest within two years. People from the non-profit direct-action group have also set up the beginnings of a “people’s supermarket”. Formerly known as La Bodega at Taurus Crafts, just outside Lydney, the newly installed Forest Food is offering a range of veg they’ve grown, a co-operative bulk buying scheme of dried goods, recipe ideas and info swaps.
At Yorkley Court (on the way to Yorkley from Lydney), there will be a RECLAIM THE FIELDS extravaganza…
On March 8 and 9 there will be a 2-day permaculture course, followed by five days of building an infrastructure for community growing, then talks, actions and more up to March 25.
For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Other ideas people are working on is the concept of a free shop(s), like the already existing Freecycle but with a physical building to donate free items and pick them up… to reinvigorate a system of skill-sharing, swapping trades and services similar to LETS… and a genuine regeneration of our town centres, rather than the pretend one which is really a land grab with millions of public funds going straight into the hands of corporations with community interest servile or non-existent versus the pursuit of private profit.
You know what the problem is? Capitalism is wrecking our lives, turning us against each other, and also destroying the fabric of our communities and planet. We have to destroy it, or the downward spiral will continue relentlessly.
Can we rely on Labour or any other political party to do that? Hardly. Libertarian socialism and participative democracy is what we stand for – get involved with us! We can’t promise an easy ride or that we’ll achieve what we want, but at least we’ll give it a go!