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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Michael Kissman – which part of your anatomy would he kiss?

Apparently the good people of St Albans have been in contact with the good people of Kirkby regarding a certain high ranking Tesco employee, Michael Kissman.

The people of St Albans were forewarned a couple of months back, by the good people of Cambridge. It seems Kissman, also known as the head of Tesco spin, is “parachuted in” to the current Tesco proposals that are facing problems and particularly were the residents are clearly against and publicly objecting to Tesco.

Within no time of his arrival an “independent” survey was carried out in St Albans city centre and 301 people rated their feelings about the prospect of the store on a scale of 1 to 100.

“The survey found 34 per cent of those surveyed were opposed to the store, 36 per cent were in favour and 24 per cent said they were neutral.” which was a surprise to the St Albans residents who had earlier, through their local paper, carried out their own survey which found;

“…that over 90 per cent of local residents opposed the development.”

Totally ignoring that survey, Tesco corporate affairs manager Michael Kissman told the local paper;”the survey reflected the size of the silent majority which was not opposed to Tesco's plans.”

He added: “While our opponents are extremely vocal and are exercising quite properly their right to promote their views, it is encouraging that there is a groundswell of opinion which considers the development could benefit the city.”

When Kissman was confronted by the St Albans residents survey and another local retailer survey which found that; “77% local retailers were against Tesco (compared to 83% across the city), 14% were in favour and 9% were undecided.”

The Tesco head of spin said; “I have spoken to many local businesses, particular (sic) some of those located near London Road, and I would have to disagree with your statement that a large majority of St Albans businesses are opposed to the development. Of the businesses we have contacted most saw the benefits of regeneration to the area we are proposing.”

Undeterred, within two weeks of the first “independent” survey, Tesco commissioned a second that stated;

“Of the people asked only 18 per cent were opposed [to the Tesco store], and nearly half are positively in favour”

Mr Michael Kissman from Tesco told This is Hertfordshire that there is now a “groundswell of opinion which considers the development could benefit the city”.

Kissman also said; “These results continue to be very interesting and there certainly seems to have been some movement between the two polls. Once again we have a silent majority either in favour of, or neutral about, the proposed development. It is encouraging that the number of people in favour has risen substantially.”

The same publication then set up a poll for local residents;

"Tesco: Review readers have spoken WE asked you to have your say and, as usual, our readers did not disappoint us.

The result of our poll sends a clear message to supermarket giant Tesco: “You're not wanted in London Road.” (See full list below).

Our phonelines did not stop ringing and our website went into overdrive with the vast majority of Review readers taking a defiant stand against Tesco.

When we contacted Tesco with our findings, corporate affairs manager Michael Kissman said: “As the Review has already reported, independent research has shown a majority of people are either in favour or neutral about our proposals.

“Planning applications are not decided on the basis of phone calls, they are based on planning law and technical reports, and decided by elected councillors.

“A phone-in is a self-selecting sample of people who choose to phone up.”

Meanwhile Kissman has set up a ‘Tesco phone line forum' for local businessess in St Albans.

So now we know at least one reason why and how the closed “Destination Kirkby Community Liaison Group” was 'set up' and why within the last week the Tesco PR push has begun.

Michael Kissman, from Tesco, said: “The first meeting went really well. It gave us the opportunity to agree how best to keep the community informed.”

Everton FC chief executive Keith Wyness said: “Attending these meetings is part of our commitment to open and honest communication with all aspects of the Kirkby community.”

Thankfully the residents of Kirkby have been forewarned.

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