Row over town's supermarket plans

"Big four" supermarket chains
Image caption Tesco is the only one of the "big four" not to have declared an interest in moving in to Hayle

Residents in Hayle are calling for a referendum on the number of supermarkets allowed in their town.

They are concerned about four new proposals which will be considered by planners in February.

Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Asda want to move into the town and developer ING, which has outline planning for South Quay, also wants to add a supermarket.

But the mayor of the Cornish town said a referendum would not be "true democracy".

John Bennett said the best way for people to make their views known is at a public meeting on 19 January, when all four proposals will be debated.

Hayle Residents' Association recently conducted a poll of 767 people which it said showed a "clear majority" in favour of two of the proposals - one for the former Jewson site near Hayle foundry and the other near the town's rugby club.

They believe the next step should be a local referendum on the number of supermarkets the town wants.

Businessman Ray Wyse told BBC News: "We came to the clear conclusion that, yes, the majority of people do want a supermarket, but from that point onwards they were split right down the middle over the two locations."

The association denied claims the poll was "unscientific", saying the questions were deliberately made simple in order to glean the public's view.

Local councillor and residents' association chairman Harry Blakeley, who helped with the poll, said it was a fair and professional survey.

"As a town councillor I feel it's my duty to go and find out what the people want and not tell them what I want," Mr Blakeley said.

Poll 'limitations'

The association said it will press for a referendum or parish poll at a meeting on Friday evening.

But the town's mayor said a parish poll was not the answer because of its limitations.

"The snag with a parish poll is that it's run in shorter hours than a normal poll," Mr Bennett said.

"There's no postal vote available so people who can't get out their house - the disabled and elderly - have less chance to vote, so it's not a perfect solution."

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