MP Paul Keetch ‘HASSLED’ by new campaign group questioning his loyalty to US company ASDA-Walmart

A new local group - HASSLE - Hereford Against Supermarkets Squashing our Local Economy - is questioning the logic of Paul Keetch MP’s support for US supermarket giant ASDA-Walmart, given evidence that supermarkets destroy local businesses. Read more ...

Time to defend the diversity of Hereford City Centre

Co-ordinator of HASSLE, Rob Hattersley said: “Paul Keetch means well, but far from creating local jobs, the evidence is that on average each new supermarket destroys 276 equivalent full time jobs when you balance those created in the store against those lost through local shops and businesses closing (1). Mr. Keetch’s statements in the press about being proud of what we have achieved in 10 years time are highly questionable. If current trends continue, by 2015 a ring of bland energy-guzzling supermarkets will surround a derelict Hereford City Centre. Hereford, which has so much individuality to offer, will be just another clone town like everywhere else.” Ironically, the government agreed in a report back in 1998 that new supermarkets destroy local town centres. (2)

HASSLE believes that Hereford already has enough supermarkets given the size of the city. “Most people currently find it necessary to use supermarkets, but we don’t need any more,” said Mr. Hattersley. “Hereford has huge trading and tourist potential, but on our own terms and focussed on what we do best in local food, goods, services and tourism.”

“It is hugely ironic that the same week in which Mr. Keetch was splashed across our newspapers apparently praising the selfless generosity of US giant ASDA-Walmart (3), he also published a press release criticising the government for not sourcing more school fruit locally (4). He’s right on that, but supermarkets are the main cause of the lack of local produce, as it doesn’t fit with their centralised distribution systems, which cause so many traffic problems. This highlights something of an inconsistency. He needs to worry less about trying to please everyone.”

HASSLE aims to build a cross-party coalition of local businesses and groups opposed to a further possible supermarket on the Edgar Street grid. If Herefordshire Council agreed to another supermarket, it would, HASSLE believes, kill off those city centre businesses lucky enough to survive next year’s ASDA – Walmart onslaught. Research shows that every £10 spent on local food from shops, box schemes, farm shops and farmer’s markets is worth £25 to the local economy, because those local businesses use other local businesses. The same £10 spent in a supermarket generates just £14 worth to the local economy (5). Our MP and Council could be promoting local alternatives such as farmer’s markets, box schemes, local shops and food co-ops much more enthusiastically and consistently.

“It’s vital that our local MP stands up on trade justice for our local farmers and businesses’” said Brian Lunt, a member of the steering group. “He can’t be consistent on that whilst he remains taken in by the token gestures and sweeteners offered by giant corporations. The much needed flood defences and community facilities offered by ASDA-Walmart, are a drop in the ocean to them and crucial to us, but in the long run we will certainly pay for them more than once as our City centre declines.”


1. ‘The impact of out of centre food stores on local retail employment’, National Retail Planning
Forum, April 1998
2. ‘The impact of large food stores on market towns and city centres’, DETR, October 1998
3. Hereford Journal (19.10.05) and Hereford Times (20.10.05)
5. Neighbourhood shopping in the millennium, University of Nottingham Business School, October 1998

HASSLE Press Release 25/10/05

Posted: Thu - November 3, 2005 at 12:17 PM