I came in here for that special offer…

Tesco’s are planning to build a bigger store on their St Oswalds site and this has lead to a number of comments about whether the store is ‘needed’ and what the impact on the City Centre will be. I’m not going to rehearse the arguments for and against but if the store goes ahead there are opportunities that must not be missed. The store will be close to some of the most deprived streets in our City. Cross generational worklessness, poor literacy and poverty are major problems. Low aspirations, youth unemployment and disability mean that people fail to achieve their potential. Poor housing, addiction and poor mental health add to the problems that people face.

There is no quick answer but teaching people basic skills like timekeeping and interpersonal skills can go a long way. Showing them that they can help others and themselves through work is key to building a community. This is where there is an opportunity for the City Council to challenge Tesco’s to not only invest in building a store but also in the people who live nearby. They should offer jobs and training to those who live nearby. They should work with the local schools to ensure that the children can look to the future with confidence that they can gain the skills to work and support themselves in the future. They should work with older people living on limited budgets to help them to eat well and cheaply.  This is not unrealistic – they have done this kind of work with other communities. The question is will the leadership of the City Council ask them to rise to the challenge or will they allow ‘big Tesco’ to take our money without giving anything back?

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