Although I enjoyed reading it, and he is probably right that it will result in the loss of many other shops in his town, I disagree with some of his analysis, particularly his assertion that this is a problem. 20% of people in his area have objected to it in writing, and he argues that each area should be able to decide whether they want a Tesco, and the process of blocking it should not be so potentially expensive for the local council that big companies should be able to bully them into accepting planning proposals. I fully agree that the planning and appeals system should be repaired so that planning decisions shouldn't be made on the basis of economic blackmail, but I think there is a wider issue here. I don't think that whether the area should have a Tesco should be up to local planners at all. Instead, I think that people everywhere in the country should be entitled to the same level of service provision. People are much the same everywhere, and within a country, should be able to live anywhere with the same basic rights and service provision. Postcode lotteries in state provision are a symptom of bad government, whether in health care, education, or social services. basic shopping facilities. In commercial markets, the free market is an excellent way of providing services to people at the level they want. We have very little direct control over the quality and level of local health care or education, but commercial enterprises live or die directly as a result of how well they fit the needs of the local market. If the presence of a Tesco in the area is so attractive to shoppers that other stores inevitably close due to lack of custom, then that shows that the market actually wants Tesco and doesn't care enough about the existence of the shops that die. It is a simple result of competition in a free market, and isn't something that should be blocked by local democracy. I don't think someone who thinks they like small shops should be able to prevent me from shopping in big ones, or vice versa. If there are enough of them, then both can happily survive side by side. If there aren't, or people who say they want to keep the small stores actually swap to Tesco once it's there, as many do, then the market is functioning perfectly when the other stores close. That isn't a fault, it is the nature of a free market.
Local democracy has a place, but not in regulating markets or basic quality of life issues, something best done at national, regional or even global levels. When we determine how the market should be regulated, then it should apply equally throughout the jurisdiction. Local government should be limited to local tweaking within that - issues of precise location, minor influences on look and feel, and ensuring that the services they are responsible for are adapted as appropriate to cope with the changes resulting from people's free decisions.
In the future, it will be interesting to see whether a hybrid model could survive. Some superstores have tried having small outlets alongside within the same superstore building. This combines the convenience of the big store with the ability to shop in small ones. Out of town malls do the same. This would be an option that might be able to satisfy both markets. If Tesco were permitted to build in an area, but obliged to make some space available in the same location for competing small shops, even the same ones displaced from the town centres, then we would retain some element of local vaiety and local culture without sacrificng the quality of life improvements offered by the superstore model. I rather suspect that the small shops would still fail, and that the perceived demand for them doesn't really exist in anything like the magnitude that George suggests. I don't like Tesco all that much, but I much prefer it to any of the alternatives. It seems that so do most other people.