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Suffocating protest over Tesco coffee plan

By Whitstable Times  |  Posted: September 20, 2012

CONTROVERSIAL:  Protesters put  carrier bags over their heads to demonstrate how chain stores are suffocating Whitstable

CONTROVERSIAL: Protesters put carrier bags over their heads to demonstrate how chain stores are suffocating Whitstable

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CAMPAIGNERS have distanced themselves from a controversial art performance in support of the Save Whitstable Shops campaign.

About 15 adults put Tesco carrier bags over their heads while standing outside the former Clinton Cards shop, which could be transformed into a branch of coffee chain Harris and Hoole. Tesco has a 49 per cent share of the company.

The performers laughed loudly before slumping to the floor, as if suffocating, in front of stunned shoppers on Sunday afternoon.

Oxford Street Books owner Brian Hitcham, who started the Save Whitstable Shops Facebook campaign, said the stunt was nothing to do with him.

He added: "I'm sure their intention was very good but I don't feel it added anything to the campaign. Someone posted a 10-second video of it on our Facebook page but people complained so we took it down.

"A lady said she had been telling her children not to put carrier bags over their heads because it was dangerous and the protest was irresponsible.

"The people doing it said it was art, as part of Whitstable Biennale. I suppose it could be argued it was art but I'm no expert."

Biennale spokesman Simon Steven said the performance was not an official part of the event but may have been linked to fringe festival The Satellite.

Rob Morris, owner of iS-2-Gallery in Horsebridge Road, said the campaign to save Whitstable's independent shops from the threat of competition from national chains and from rent rises was going from strength to strength.

He said: "We've got more than 600 "likes" on our Facebook page now. As far as I'm aware all the independent shops are involved."

Traders were due to meet in private on Tuesday evening and hoped to hold a public meeting soon as well as launching paper and online petitions.

Like Save Whitstable Shops at www.facebook.com/SaveWhitstableShops, visit www.savewhitstableshops .co.uk, or follow on Twitter @savewhitstableshops

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  • mitziebitz  |  December 24 2012, 8:36AM

    Yay Max - absolutely spot on but I am guessing that, like me, you are not an "artist" so have no valid opinions. I liked Whitstable best about 25 years ago. I would question whether we actually need another coffee shop but have absolutely no problems with Tesco. I noticed that the premises formerly occupied by Oliviers is not to be a Microbrewery bar - no silly campaigns from the Bienniale about that although we do not need another "pub" no matter how micro! I would welcome a few more shops that actually sell things ordinary locals want, not those aimed at the "arts" crowd, visitors and the DFLs. Tesco Local anyone :-D

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  • Maxcat  |  December 23 2012, 10:57PM

    This showing was extremely immature and irresponsible. You don't make a credible point by putting plastic bags over your heads in front of children and defacing property that doesn't belong to you. I for one am getting sick of the holier than thou preaching that goes on in Whitstable telling me what I can and cannot like or buy. Personally I prefer local shops, but it is a free economy and it is up to consumers to decide, not the self-appointed village elders. Local businesses are just like any other businesses, you'll be successful if you provide a service that people want and are willing to pay for. You aren't entitled to bar competition and no one owes you a living just because you are local. Sorry, but I am just sick of the self-righteousness and hypocrisy in the "friendliest town".

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