As Lancaster City Council prepares to consider not one but two supermarket proposals next week, campaigners are again reminding us of how the 'system' works in the favour of some projects getting the green light.
We are all now pretty familiar with the standard process for supermarket development planning - the company in question attempts to bribe the council into submission with promises to build
houses, community centres, sports clubs, install street lighting or mend roads. While espousing nonsense about how local businesses won't lose out from their arrival, they know that they will quickly recoup and exceed any paltry sums paid out in the name of community engagement.
But for a cash-strapped council unable itself to fund anything to toss to the electorate, it's a difficult offer to turn down - just gloss over the fact that for the rest of time the enterprise will be sucking money out of the local economy, and piping it to your new friends at the international HQ of the supermarket - via its network of tax avoid offshore subsidiaries, of course.
Tesco, who recently opened their first Lancaster store on King Street, to the dismay of local market traders (those few that are left, at least) have been the masters of this technique, championing the complete corporate takeover of their consumers lives - out to sell them their housing, everything they ever need to put in it, providing their recreation facilities, the financial services to afford it all and, of course, stuffing them full of food.
And yet they are still upping the ante. To the above list you can now add paying for the means to keep everyone in their place on the Tesco-treadmill: As part of the bribe needed to secure the rights to build the biggest Tesco in the country in West Bromwich, the supermarket is not only building a cinema, restaurants, a hotel, a petrol station, shops and a new ring road but also, for the first time, a police station.
The £7 million new Tes-copshop is nearing completion and one presumes her majesty's grateful constabulary will be only too willing to crack down on anything anti-social going on in the new development in return.
Corporate cops on the beat, patrolling the privatised town centres of Britain to make sure everyone behaves like a good consumer should? Well, Every little helps...
Tesco are of course believed to be one of the interested parties in the proposed supermarket development near Lancaster University, being discussed next week by the Council.
* For more on Tesco being off the trollies, checkout