Angry scenes in the Sedgemoor council chamber today greeted the unanimous Tory vote to support the bid for a Tesco Extra store on the Northgate site of the former Sedgemoor Splash. A demo with banners and placards greeted councillors as they arrived for the meeting and was joined by Labour Councillors who led the attempt to get the Council to reject the Tesco bid.
60 people packed the Council chamber to witness the spectacular site of the Tory ranks remaining totally silent throughout the meeting and then simply vote through the proposal at the end.
Labour councillors spoke out against the proposal. Pearce "Sedgemoor has not learnt the lessons of previous developments and does not listen to the people" , Smedley "The development should be leisure led with clear linkages to the town centre" , Taylor "The Tesco mission is to close down other retailers!" and Di Campo "The people of the town have spoken but the Tories think they know better". They were supported by Burnham and Highbridge Libdems Leach "ASDA killed Highbridge town centre" and Mansfield "Not one Tory voted with us,i'm disgusted!" , but still the Tories wouldn't budge.
Finally it was down to Tory executive member Herbert to try to justify the decision and at the same time attempt to outline Sedgemoor Tory achievements... "We've refurbished your bandstand" , "We're a forward thinking and delivering council!" ("boo!!"). Trying to rescue the situation, Tory leader McGinty said "It's a risk but we believe we can minimise it."
Members of the Public , including many residents of nearby Anson Way who would suffer considerably from the ill thought out plan, spoke in vain towards the deaf ears of the Tories .
"How could any council in it's right mind suggest another supermarket in Bridgwater?" , "What we need is a Marks and Spencers type store", "Cash is king- but after selling the assets the cupboard will be bare!" "Tescos will undercut all traders! It won;t be money for Bridgwater but for Tescos!!", "You are going to sell off FOREVER a public open space for a Supermarket!", "Take care of our Green spaces, they ain't making any more!"
Labour Councillor Brian Smedley called for a recorded vote to put on record those councillors who had voted for and against .
For the Tescos proposal; -
Alder ( Con ,Kings Isle) Baker (Con, Bridgwater Quantock) Bown (Con,Sandford) Bradford (Con,N.Petherton) Burridge-Clayton (Con, Burnham North) Cresswell (Con, Bridgwater Bower) Crow (Con , Bridgwater Quantock) Davey (Con , Burnham N) Denbee (Con, Axe Vale) Downing (Con,Cheddar) Dyer (Con,Cannington) Filmer (Con,Brent) Fraser (Con,N.Petherton) Gilling (Con, Brent N) Grimes (Con, Berrow) Hall ( Con, Bridgwater,Bower) Hamlin (Con,Woolavington) Herbert ( Con, Huntspill) Hill (Con, Cheddar) Jones (Con, Burnham N )Joslin (Con,Cannington) Kingham (Con,W Poldens) McGinty (Con , E Poldens) Moreton (Con, Huntspill) Preece (Con, Bridgwater Bower) Savage (Con Cheddar) Slocombe (Con, Bridgwater Quantock) Turner N (Con, Kings isle)
Against the Tescos proposal; -
DiCampo (Labour, Bridgwater Victoria) Leach (Lib, Highbridge) Mansfield (Lib Burnham South) Pearce (Labour, Bridgwater Hamp) Richards (Labour,Bridgwater Victoria) Smedley (Labour, Bridgwater Hamp) Taylor (Labour, Bridgwater Eastover) Turner J (Labour, Bridgwater Hamp)
Scott (Con, Axbridge)
Uproar greeted the final vote (28-8-1) , pushed through by the out of town Tories that dominate Sedgemoor with the complete collusion of the 6 Bridgwater Conservatives. "We'll sort it out at the May elections!" "Don' t vote conservative, this is what they do to you!" "Disgraceful!" "Get off the Council!" and "Go and get a job in Tescos instead!"
Friday, 28 January 2011
Wednesday, 19 January 2011
A packed meeting of Sedgemoor District Council saw the 100% Tory ruling executive unanimously vote through Tescos plans to build a giant supermarket on the site of the much loved Sedgemoor Splash swimming pool. The 10 members of the SDC Executive, none of who represent Bridgwater wards, recommended that Tesco be given the go-ahead and the pressure is now on the Full Council meeting on 28th January for ratification.
The plans submitted by Sedgemoor officer Doug Bamsey, would see a massive ' Tesco Extra' built on the Northgate site, a 600 space car park and a reduction of public open space on the adjacent Brewery field. The sale of the land would bring in £5.8m as a capital receipt for SDC which they would earmark for the planned new Swimming Pool on the Chilton School site.
Bridgwaters Labour Mayor Cllr Bill Monteith said "What the town needed was a flagship Leisure & Recreation development with attached retail development but what we are being offered is a large retail development with a very much reduced leisure facility ! The Splash was key to this flawed development. Any new pool should have been built in the town centre. This is NOT the fault of Tesco or of the current economic climate but of the collective myopia and lack of strategy of THIS council. So desperate was this Council to gain a capital receipt that it failed to negotiate the best settlement. Such was the dread that someone may save the pool that they demolished it ASAP. Why? Surely a developer as keen as Tesco would have done that having acquired the site! And what was Plan B? What did they consider for the site while a sale was being negotiated? Nothing! Tesco must have been sniggering into their accounts at this ineptitude. The sight of a Council prostituting itself for the sake of a capital receipt, with out regard for the potential damage that it could do is ,frankly, abhorent ."
Labour Councillor for Hamp , Brian Smedley , picked up on a ( presumed) spelling mistake in Mr Bamsey's report when he described the Evaluation process as the 'Exiting Town centre function'. "This is in reality an 'Exit Strategy' for the Town centre. There won't be a Town centre as a result of this development. Has Sedgemoor really taken on board the likely consequences of such developments in other towns? In Accrington for instance - a town the size of Bridgwater (35,000) and similarly beholden to a Tory dominated District (Hyndburn) was promised 450 jobs by the Tescos they had approved permission for. 2,000 people applied. 191 jobs were advertised of which only 64 were long term unemployed - the rest being redeployed from other Tesco stores or displaced. The other issue is the total Gridlock that will be created as this site will be right in between the NDR and Taunton rd snarl ups that will be made worse by the planned EDF developments"
Eastover Labour Councillor Julian Taylor pointed to the failed ASDA development in his ward "This will have a similar detrimental effect. Jobs created won't be new jobs and won't be good jobs, minimum rate, not long term and just relocating. Some serious questions need answers - Were Tescos invited to contribute to a replacement pool? Did they offer? If they weren't asked , why not!?"
Members of the public added their weight to the chorus of criticism directed against Sedgemoor Tories.
Local Trader Sally Jones said "Once in this town they will undercut all the local traders. We have lots of empty shops and this won;t encourage them to fill up. We've seen in the media what Tescos has done to other towns such as Shepton Mallet. Tesco will do exactly what ASDA did to the other end of town so please Councillors learn from your mistakes and protect what you have. Once in then Tescos will have control !"
Roger Smith , manager of the adjacent Angel Place shopping centre said "this proposal could lead to current retailers in the town centre rethinking the terms of their leases if they think the impact of such a development will be too great on their businesses"
Prospective tesco neighb our,Eric Pasco, said the vicinity was ".. part of a conservation area and the Brewery Field had been given to the town to use as public open space/recreation in perpetuity."
Local resident Bob Cudlipp pointed to a petition of 1,875 names supporting Town centre swimming and leisure facilities and called on councillors to " look again at the site in the light of Public consultation."
Linda Brigg, ex Splash disabled group, said "We have had consultations but Sedgemoor take no notice!"
The Tory response was unbending. Cllr Anne Fraser (North Petherton) said "Tesco has embraced the Bridgwater Vision and I've never seen anyone using Brewery fields anyway" (cries of "Rubbish!").
Cllr Dawn Hill (Cheddar) said "This council has a reasonable track record in trying to get the best developments". She cited her involvement in Clarks Village, Street as a good example of a similar development. (to cries of "No Comparison!").
Cllr Paul Herbert (Huntspill) said "This is a listening council and businesses need to change to survive."
Trying to quieten the angry audience tory leader Duncan McGinty ( East Polden) told the audience "Please listen!" to cries of "Thats the problem - we ARE listening!".
It was down to Cllr Ann Bown (Wembdon) to sum up the Sedgemoor Tory position "Bridgwater is ONLY a part of Sedgemoor. Is it right to put this burden on the tax payers of Wedmore and Cheddar?" (shouts of "yes" and "thats what its for!")
Chief Executive Kerry Rickards tried to sum up by saying "this project has been 7 years in the making. Sedgemoor has a reputation nationally as one of the lowest cost Authorities in the land!" (cries of "cheapest!" and "Resign!")
Councillors will relook at this decision at a special meeting on 28th January.
Friday, 14 January 2011
While all eyes were focussing on the Labour victory in Oldham last night a more exciting example of Labours recovery occured here in the South West as Labour came from 5th place to win the Camborne North By Election on Cornwall County Council .
Labour gain from Conservative
Lab 239 (33.1%, +22.4), Con 203 (28.1%, -8.8), LD 156 (21.6%, +2.2), Lib 61 (8.4%, +6.2), MK 32 (4.4%, -10.4), Green 31 (4.3%, +4.3).
Swing of 15.6% from Con to Lab since 2009.
- Champion, Michael Neale - (Mebyon Kernow - The Party For Cornwall) - 32
- Holmes, Paul Thomas - (Liberal Party) - 61
- Merrick, Jacqueline Norma - (Green Party) - 31
- Pascoe, Anna Kerensa - (Liberal Democrats) - 152
- Pascoe, Denise - (The Conservative Party Candidate) - 203
- Robinson, Judith Christine - (The Labour and Co-operative Party Candidate) - 230 Elected
Labour were in fifth place in this ward at the last election May 2009
Camborne North 2009
Lib Dem 19.4%
With elections on the horizon here in Sedgemoor Kathy Pearce, leader of the District Labour group said " Both of last nights results a re obviously fantastic news for Labour . It is heartening that people are now seeing through the Coalition policies which are hitting public services disproportionately severely, targetting the less well off and the most vulnerable hardest . Locally and nationally , over the next few months, we are about t o see the loss of services on a scale neveer seen before. "
"The Tories and Lib-Dems are completely failing to address the issue of the mega-rich tax avoiders and the bankers who got us into this financial mess in the first place by a lack of regulation. They are pursuing a policy of rising unemployment and pressure on the public purse, which will potentially put us back into recession. They already borrowed more in December than the Labour government did the previous year.
"Today is the start - people and Labour fighting back and telling this government that this is just not good enough and there is a better way, through Labour."
Thursday, 13 January 2011
Labour have won the Oldham East and Saddleworth By-election with a massive 11% swing , 42% of the vote and an increase of 16%. Debbie Abrahams, who won the seat for Labour, said "This is a clear message to Cameron and Clegg. People are sick of broken promises on VAT , trebling Tuition fees, scrapping EMA . People are turning back to Labour because of the Reckless policies of the Coalition, the Unfair cuts and the broken promises. I keep my Promises!"
The result-which was better than even the Labour landslide in 1997, saw the collapse of the Tory vote as Camerons followers switched to the Cleggites in a desperate attempt to save their ConDem coalition cronies with 14% of Tory voters changing sides as dissillusioned Libdem voters switched to Labour sick of their parties broken promises.
Andy Burnham MP said after the count "Labour are winning elections again. This is a very good result for Ed Milliband who led from the front in a very difficult campaign. "
In her victory speech Debbie Abrahams referred to the founding of the Independent Labour Party by Kier Hardie in 1893 "when working people first realised the Liberals were not for them".
Abrahams (Labour) 14,718
Watkins (Lib Dem) 11,160
Ali (Tory) 4,481
Nutttal (UKIP) 2,029
Adams (BNP) 1,560
Alan (Green) 530
FlyingBrick (Loony) 145
Maurice (Eng Dem) 144
KLoz (Pirate) 96
Bishop (BusPassElvis) 67