Mullumbimby Action Group -> latestnews -> coming_home_to_the_cage



The main street in Woodbridge Suffolk UK. Kindly submitted by Mary Webb.

By Diane Hart

I've been away for a few months, visiting aged parents overseas, and I expected to see a few welcoming fairies when I arrived back in Mullumbimby - instead I was greeted by THE CAGE.

So for all of those that thought that Woolworth's were going to be a benign influence on our town or, indeed, a benevolent benefactor I hope that they finally get it.

If you want a little peephole into the future for our town or, indeed Australia, you only have to look at the UK. Two out of three people are overweight and one in ten is obese and the food is truly awful. The free (and that means healthy and fresh) marketplace for food has died because the big boys have moved in and rung the death knell with one supermarket taking the place of an infinite variety of food/produce store in most towns and villages and with it the death of service and community.
We went to a pretty place called Woodbridge in Suffolk that has a charming medieval pedestrian mall, full of bow-fronted shop windows and you can see that it used to have a butcher, baker, game & poultry shop, fish shop etc. by the faded signs above the doorways. Not any more. In a street of about 70 shops - there was only one food shop, Tesco's (a supermarket), but it now had 5 banks, 6 charity shops, 4 discount stores, 1 Centrelink,various tatty clothes shops and the rest were boarded up. This was repeated over and over again wherever we went in the UK.

I went in hope to the last remaining butcher, close to my parents, in the village of Ramsey, Essex for some real meat to cook up some stuff for them. 30 minutes later - after the poor bloke was almost in tears I was out of there - no osso bucco tonight. He told me that he just couldn't sell things that you had to cook any more, he barely sold a roast and that people just wanted instant - like you got in the supermarket. Rissoles and quick fry with all that disgusting sauce all over it (his words) - not a Jamie Oliver in sight.

It beggars belief that a private entity, purely for economic gain can disrupt a whole town with this appalling cage. I hope all those Woolies cheerleaders finally get it. Woolworth's are selfish, voracious corporate giants with no conscience - they don't give a toss about you or your town. In silent protest follow Mandy's advice and tie your undies to the cage. If you see some long-johns- they belong to my father in memory of the casserole he was going to have.

COMMENT: Mary Webb

I read Diane Hart's article on my home town of Woodbridge and to be honest I was horrified. Talk about over exaggeration. I agree big supermarkets are the baine of our lives when it comes to local markets, but lets try and not 'over egg' it.
Tesco's is located at Martlesham Heath 4 miles from Woodbridge town centre. The Thorougfhfare in Woodbridge is a thriving community the only down side at the moment is the impact of the GFC not Tesco's. The two supermarkets in the town centre are the Co-op and Budgens.
I was in Woodbridge this time last year and thoroughly enjoyed my return home. I am in regular contact with friends back in Woodbridge and nobody has reported the scale of "despair" that Diane Hart has.

Woodbridge suffered greatly when the Americans vacated the USAF base at Bentwaters back in the early 90s.  However, even with Tesco’s arriving the town has pulled itself off the ground and seems now to concentrate on the tourism industry as it has a wealth of beautiful old buildings and churches.  I left Woodbridge in 2004 and still miss the cultural appeal of the place.  Oh! It has a market day of Friday’s by the way.

 You can tell I still care about the place otherwise I would have not responded to Diana’s article the way I did.

Diane Hart replies

I am not a local to that particular area - just anti the industrialisation of our food.  The day we were in Woodbridge we witnessed the closing of the last 'food store' in the mall (a poultry and game shop).  Now Woodbridge has been a thriving market town for centuries and while I accept that I may have confused the name of the supermarkets the fact remains that where there was once a daily exchange of local food produce - now there hardly any.

I went into a greengrocers around the corner from the mall and while it had about 20% local produce the rest was from overseas;  Beans and plums from France, oranges from Africa, apples from Italy, bananas from Ecuador etc. Maybe this goes some way to explaining why there was panic when the Icelandic volcano recently blew it's top and halted air travel to and from the UK.  We were constantly being reminded in the press that the UK only has three days supply of fresh food in storage because it relies so much on foreign produce. And, my point is, do we want to live like this in Mullumbimby now that Woolworth's is coming to town.

Woodbridge is not an isolated case.  We also visited my mother-in-law who is 93, blind but up till recently living independently but now she is forced to go into care.  Why, because the three shops she could walk to in her village of East Malling, Kent have just succumbed to the pressure of a large supermarket (Tesco's) in the next village of West Malling and closed.  These shops were her lifeline.  She could walk to them, be served by a friendly and familiar voice - and the staff provided many extraordinary kindnesses that enabled her to live happily at home.  The is the human face of our modern world and the mindless greed of the corporate giants and I am sorry, but I do not like it.


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