THE controversial Tesco Express in Somersham opened its doors on Friday (September 2).

The convenience store, located in the former Black Bull pub, was subject to fierce debate amongst residents – some who welcomed the supermarket giant into the village and others who worried about the future of other Somersham shops and services.

However, the opening went without a hitch – with people waiting outside to be the first customers.

Manager Karen Hawkins was thrilled.

She said: “It’s been fantastic. We opened at 8am and we had a few people waiting outside, which was lovely. At 10.30am, we had members of the Somersham Under 9s Football Club come and do the official opening for us and we donated £500 to the team. There was a big crowd for that and a great atmosphere.

“Feedback has been great so far – everyone is being really friendly and everyone is happy and excited. The customers have commented that they love the range and it has gone really well. I am really, really pleased. My team have done an amazing job getting the store ready to open.”

In a first for Tesco, the store will not use plastic bags – fitting in with the village’s “plastic bag free” ethos. Instead, the store is giving away a limited supply of free hessian shopping bags. The store will also sell the parish council’s reusable cloth shopping bags, passing on all proceeds from sales of the £1 bags to the village – another first for the business.

Meanwhile, rumours that the nearby One Stop, which includes the village Post Office, will close now that Tesco Express is open in the village were quashed by the store’s headquarters.

A spokesman for the nationwide chain, which has been directly owned by Tesco since 2003, said: “We have absolutely no intention of closing our Somersham store. There is no truth in the rumours.”