Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Tesco denies pupil lunchtime discrimination at Edinburgh store

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Media captionPupils say Tesco lunch queuing system 'not really fair'

Tesco has denied claims it has been discriminating against state school pupils at one of its Edinburgh stores.

Parents raised concerns that students from Boroughmuir High School had to queue outside at lunchtime while pupils from nearby private school George Watson's College were allowed in.

Tesco said there was no discrimination but it had to put restrictions in place at its busiest time.

One father told BBC Scotland he wanted an apology for his son.

Neil Pollock raised a complaint with Tesco on Twitter over the treatment of his son at the Tesco Metro store in the Bruntsfield area of the city.

He told BBC Scotland: "I raised the issue because I thought Tesco could find a better way to manage a flash crowd, which didn't require them to make one set of kids wait behind a barrier whilst they waved another set of kids into the shop.

"I understand entirely the organisational problem that Tesco has, but surely they can be more creative about resolving this problem."

A Tesco representative responded to Mr Pollock with a series of tweets, telling him: "I've called the store and spoke to the duty manager, John... He said the private school normally have a lesser amount of children which is quicker and easier for the store."

After Mr Pollock indicated he was not happy with that explanation, a Tesco representative tweeted: "I agree we cannot have different rules."

That tweet now appears to have been deleted.

A statement from Tesco said claims of discrimination were "completely untrue".

It added: "There has never been any discrimination between state and private school children at this store."

A spokesman for the retailer told BBC Scotland the store, like other shops and food outlets, did put restrictions in place during its busiest time, which is when Boroughmuir High has its lunch-hour.

He said George Watson's lunch-hour was at a different time and that only pupils from certain year groups were allowed out of school, so when these pupils came to the store it was normally quieter, therefore restrictions were not needed.

BBC Scotland spoke to pupils outside Tesco during their lunch-hour on Tuesday.

Cameron, a senior pupil at Boroughmuir, said: "Usually it's just all the Boroughmuir guys that queue up and if the Watsons ones turn up they usually get in straight away."

Matthew, another Boroughmuir student, added: "There's normally a big barrier along that wall and we all have to queue there. There's usually someone from Tesco policing us. On busy days we have to wait up to 15 minutes.

"At this time the Watson pupils come up and walk in and out freely. They are the same age as us so I feel it's not really fair."

Andrew, a 16-year-old pupil from George Watson's, said he had noticed the queues while he walked in. He said: "I guess it is a bit unfair for them."

Mr Pollock said: "I think Tesco should just apologise to the kids and move on. My son tells me that when he went to the store yesterday that there was no longer a queue of any sort - which him and his friends were pleased about.

"I accept that the lunch hours may be staggered but in practice what happens is that large numbers of kids arrive at their store, and one is made to wait outside and the other allowed to walk in.

"I don't think it is a fair way to organise this problem."

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