Actress Emma Thompson joins Belsize Park Tesco backlash

PUBLISHED: 22:19 17 January 2015 | UPDATED: 22:24 17 January 2015

Emma Thompson joins the swelling campaign against Tesco in Belsize Park

Emma Thompson joins the swelling campaign against Tesco in Belsize Park

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Oscar winner Emma Thompson has added her name to the swelling campaign to stop a Tesco store opening in Haverstock Hill.

" “Belsize is a villagey area – it has no need of a Tesco and its very nature will be threatened.”"

Emma Thompson

The star joins fellow acting greats Dame Janet Suzman and Tom Conti, along with comedian James Corden in backing a petition against the supermarket giant which has more than 2,000 signatures.

Protesters say the planned shop on the site of the former HSBC bank, in Haverstock HIll will destroy the community feel of the high street by driving out much-loved independent shops, cause traffic chaos and is not needed when there are already two other Tesco stores nearby.

Ms Thompson, who lives in West Hampstead and whose daughter Gaia went to school in Belsize park, said in a letter to the supermarket giant: “Belsize is a villagey area – it has no need of a Tesco and its very nature will be threatened.”

She wrote: “The people who live there do not want it. They already have food shops – ones they trust and that retain a local feel to them. Wherever Tesco goes, the local feeling is destroyed by staff who neither know or care to know the inhabitants – your staff are always meanly paid and without any stake in either their employers interests or the interests of the local people, they have no reason to be.”

She added: “I will be signing petitions and writing to the press on this subject but as a nearby and interested local of West Hampstead also wanted to express my personal and deeply felt objection.”

Dame Janet Suzman is due to speak at a public meeting next Tuesday January 20 at 8pm at St Stephen’s, in Pond Street,

In July she was part of a successful campaign to stop Sainsbury’s opening a shop in South End Green.

The proposals for the Tesco store came to light on December 22 when Tesco submitted a licensing application to serve alcohol at the site, on the corner of Belsize Grove.

As reported by the Ham & High, Tom Conti joined more than 70 protesters outside the former bank last week.

He said: “It’s about a powerful institution pushing smaller people around.I am not against healthy competition, but this is the unacceptable face of competition.

“The small shops which are part of this community will be the losers and will be forced to close down.

“Tesco are not wanted here and should listen to what people are saying.”

Members of Camden’s licensing committee will decide on Tesco’s application at a meeting on January 26.

A spokeswoman for Tesco, who are expected to send a representative to the public meeting, said: “We’re proud of the contribution we make to every community we serve, creating local jobs, supporting local charities and providing affordable, high quality fresh food to local people.

“Our proposed store in Belsize Park will create up to 20 jobs for local people and we pay our colleagues industry leading rates.

“We are actively consulting the community on our proposals and will continue to work closely with them as our plans progress.”


  • I totally agree with Joe_belsize_park: what hypocrites these c'lebrities be. I have been forced to shop at Budgens Thorntons for years and I have NEVER seen Thompson, Suzman or any of their cohorts once shopping the aisles! How Corden, who is happy to be the voice of "" (which makes him a used car salesman, surely?) should take against Tesco's is baffling to some of us. And the last time we saw Tom Conti on the street was when he turned on the "Christmas lights" (money that could have been used more profitably elsewhere and the unimpressive 'folly' of a small vociferous cabal) outside the 'villagey shops" (though how a bookies, a Pizza Express, a healthstore chain, a Giraffe, a Starbucks, a Londis, a Costas ... can be called "local shops" boggles the mind!) These Mapps and Lucias - most of whom have their groceries delivered by Ocada vans, I can guarantee - need to realise that Belsize Park - Haverstock Hill in particular - is not Tilling and that nobody is forcing them to shop at the new Tesco's - by all means let them make their own arrangements - but when Ms Thompson writes, “The people who live there do not want it. They already have food shops – ones they trust and that retain a local feel to them" she is not speaking for me or my neighbours, many of whom are elderly or disabled and who would welcome a cheaper, cleaner alternative on their doorstep (literally: there is a large Council Estate diagonally across the road) to what is currently on offer. This area is not only occupied by the Haves and the Have Yachts - not yet, at least! Mr Thornton, who has presumably spearheaded this Nimby campaign, complains that his branch in Crouch End was recently sabotaged by a new Waitrose in the old Woolworth's building --- No, people voted with their feet: the "essential Waitrose" range is cheaper and better value than the products currently available in his store. If these opinionated dignitaries are so convinced of the superiority of Thornton Budgens, then they have nothing to worry about - Tesco's is not a charity and will leave promptly if there is not a demand for its services. A tiny Tesco Express store is being unfairly painted as the Goliath to Thornton Budgen's (much, much bigger) David - this is simply not the truth. I welcome Tesco's cheaper prices and choice of products - many local residents do, too. These privileged protesters are not speaking for me. Our voices deserve to be heard, too - and not dictated to by people who don't even live in the neighbourhood.

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    Tuesday, January 20, 2015

  • How dare a person, who doesn't live in Belsize Park, impose her personal values and opinions upon us? I wonder who is truly behind this campaign. Who pays for the video that they have produced, for the fancy umbrellas. Who is organising it all and why. And what gives all these celebrities (including Tom Conti who lives in Hampstead), the right to interfere with Belsize Park affairs and to decide for us whether we should have here a Tesco or not. Why do they do it? I can understand when financially interested local parties object the new Tesco Express and organise events, but why should two wealthy celebrities who don't even live here fight against the right of poorer Belsize Park residents to enjoy more affordable food than is currently available in the neighbourhood? I would urge Ms Thompson and Mr Conti to stick to their own affairs and let us make our choices ourselves. For us, a new Tesco store means cheaper prices, more relevant merchandise and the opportunity to make ends meet. We want Tesco!

    Report this comment


    Sunday, January 18, 2015

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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