Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Bridgwater Forward
Secretary: Ms G Burrows, 1 Blake Place, Bridgwater, TA6 5AU

Group Corporate Responsibility Team
Tesco PLC
New Tesco House
Delamare Road
9th November 2011
Dear Sirs
Proposed Tesco Development, Northgate, Bridgwater, Somerset
I write on behalf of a group of people who came together originally to try to persuade our local authority, Sedgemoor District Council, not to demolish our swimming pool, which was located on the Northgate site. 
Our attempt failed, the pool was quickly demolished, and we then discovered that the authority was planning to sell to Tesco plc, not only the original swimming pool site, but the whole of the Northgate site, including a green open space known as “The Brewery Field”. This is in spite of the Council’s own policy of not building on green sites such as this, and the fact that your plans clearly show that you do not need the whole site for your store development and that the pool could either have been retained or replaced on site.

Let me tell you about the Brewery Field. It occupies an area which provides open and unobstructed views to and from the historic docks and the town centre. It provides a playing field, children’s play-ground, dog-walking area, somewhere for youngsters to let off steam, as well as being a much needed and much loved “green lung” in the town centre. The Brewery Field is part of our town centre heritage, and Bridgwater people are fiercely proud of their history and their town. You probably cannot begin to imagine how angry local people are at the prospect of this open space moving into private hands, being developed, and to historic views being blocked by a building of 10 metres high or more, covering about 90,000 square feet. 
Since Bridgwater already has 8 supermarkets, the anger and apprehension about the chosen site is supplemented by opposition to yet another supermarket which, while it might enhance Tesco plc’s profits, will mean the end of many of our town centre small traders, and the death of our high street. We are, of course, not convinced by claims that Tesco will provide additional jobs, since there will obviously be job losses in existing outlets. We note that no evidence has been provided to date of the net effect of your proposed development in this regard.
However, the real reason I am writing is to convey to you our surprise and concern at the pre-application “consultation” and exhibition carried out on your behalf in Bridgwater’s Angel Place Shopping Centre, on Friday 14th and Saturday 15th October 2011.
Many of your representatives at the event appeared to know very little, either about Bridgwater or your proposed development, and were unable to answer basic questions about the exact size of the store and associated buildings, opening hours, traffic, or sustainable energy policies, for example. For instance, one person received 4 different answers, ranging from 6 metres to over 10 metres, when asking about the height of the building. These are questions local people have been asking for almost a year now, and they require and deserve accurate answers if they are to be able to make an informed judgement and hence comment accordingly on the current pre-application consultation exercise.
Some people were given two different answers to the same question asked of two different representatives. Some asked questions and received no answers, but were told to put their questions in writing. Some have yet to receive any reply.
The only plans on display were the site layout and a bird’s eye view of the proposed development.  Why weren’t plans showing the following information also made available? 
- The existing site layout with the proposed site layout superimposed on top, for comparison.

- The effect on views across the site between the Docks and the town centre.

- Before and after cross sections through the site and buildings extending to the Docks, Blacklands, Mount Street and Northgate.

- Before and after elevations of the existing and proposed buildings showing the respective heights of the existing and proposed buildings.

- Existing and proposed ground levels through the site and extending to the Docks, Blacklands, Mount Street and Northgate.

- All existing trees, clearly identifying between those that would be felled and those that would be retained, as well as any trees to be planted.

Without this information being made available, it is impossible to make an informed judgment on what is being proposed and how this will affect the local environment. Please can you therefore confirm when, how and where this information will be made available and how this will be publicised, so that the public can then respond to the current pre-application consultation exercise on a fully informed basis?

Please can you also mark out on the ground the extent of the proposed buildings where these intrude into the Brewery Field, along with the extent of the remaining grass area and the proposed height of the store, so that the full impact of the proposed development can be judged on the ground and the public will therefore be able to respond to the current pre-application consultation exercise on a fully informed basis?

Please can you confirm who will own whatever would remain of the Brewery Field after the store had been built and what guarantees would be in place to ensure this would always remain publically available? On 14th October, your architect said it would be handed back to Sedgemoor DC. On 15th October, one of your representatives said Tesco plc will retain ownership and maintenance.

Please can you confirm the role and function of the “Further feedback form” as it has been said by your representatives that this was only meant to be used by staff manning the exhibition, despite the form clearly stating it was meant to be the means by which the public could record any detailed issues they wished to raise?

Please can you confirm that retail, traffic and environmental impact assessments will all accompany any subsequent planning application as none of these assessments were available as part of the pre-application consultation exercise.

Given all the above circumstances, the current pre-application consultation exercise has clearly, thus far, failed to meet the standards required for what would be a major planning application. In short, the public have been given incomplete, insufficient, conflicting and even misleading information on the form, nature, scale and potential impact of the proposed development on the local environment and the local economy. Hence the public have not yet been provided with sufficient information on which to make an informed judgement on what is being proposed. The format in which consultation responses can be made has also been confused and misleading as has the deadline by which such consultation responses should be returned. Hence the current pre-application consultation exercise conducted to date has been deeply flawed. Hopefully your company will wish to put these matters right. 
I enclose a letter which has been sent to our Town Council, asking them to organise a proper public debate with your company, where the concerns expressed in this letter can be aired properly. I hope you will respond positively to this suggestion as well as providing answers to the issues raised in this letter.

Finally, please note that I have written separately to Melanie Wellman, Sedgemoor’s Monitoring Officer, requesting copies of the following documents under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act and/or the Environmental Information Regulations, given that in response to many of the questions raised with your representatives, members of the public were told to refer to Sedgemoor DC as the major owner of the Northgate site. No doubt you will wish to act constructively if your company is approached by Sedgemoor concerning the release of any of this information, in the interests of openness and transparency.

- Development Agreement signed by Tesco, Sedgemoor DC and Somerset CC governing the sale and development of the Northgate site.
- The final bid and associated documents submitted by Tesco for the Northgate site.
- The full Evaluation of Tesco’s final bid and associated documents summarised in Appendix 2 to the report to Sedgemoor’s Executive and Full council on 19th and 28 January 2011 respectively.
- Any documents, including letters, emails, notes of meetings and telephone conversations, recording whether Tesco would have been agreeable to the Splash pool and leisure centre being retained or replaced on the Northgate site. (We understand from a number of separate sources that Tesco confirmed accordingly to Sedgemoor’s Officers, but were told by them that this was not what the Council wanted).

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully
Ms G Burrows

Secretary, Bridgwater Forward

Copies to:
Steve Atkinson, Group Manager Development Management, Sedgemoor DC
Stuart Martin, Principal Planner, Sedgemoor DC
Melanie Wellman, Monitoring Officer, Sedgemoor DC
Cllrs Kathy Pearce and Brian Smedley, Ward Members, Sedgemoor DC
Alan Hurford, Town Clerk, Bridgwater Town Council

Footnote: Bridgwater Forward was formed following Sedgemoor District Council’s decision to close the Splash swimming pool in Bridgwater Town Centre before a replacement swimming pool was provided, as Sedgemoor promised. It believed a replacement swimming pool should be provided in Bridgwater Town Centre and campaigns for policies to be adopted that will help the future vitality and viability of Bridgwater Town Centre and the future health and wellbeing of the local community as a whole.

Friday, October 28, 2011


ON THEIR WAY TO BREAN photo by Jana Branecka
Campaign group Bridgwater Forward, who have been at the forefront of the campaign against the closure of the Sedgemoor Splash pool , the Tesco development and the loss of the Brewery Field have organised a Halloween themed bus trip to the Brean Splash Waterpark to highlight the lack of facilities in Bridgwater and to provide families deprived of local swimming facilities with a great half term opportunity.
photo by Jana Branecka

District and Town Labour Councillor Ian Tucker was also the bus driver and said "The bus has been provided free by Webberbus and thanks are also due to the Brean Splash. We have been without a swimming pool in Bridgwater for more than two years now ."

Linda Brigg, co-organiser, said "I am a former disabled group member of the Splash and I dearly miss it. I relied on it, it eased my pain. That's why I support Bridgwater Forward as we are trying to keep leisure in Bridgwater"

Sally Jones & Linda Briggs
photo by Jana Branecka

The 68 seater bus was filled with youngsters and some parents , mainly dressed in Halloween themed costumes, and departed promptly on time from the former Splash site at 10pm Friday  28th October.

The next meeting of BRIDGWATER FORWARD will be at the Railway Club, Wellington road Bridgwater at 7pm on Tuesday 8th November. All welcome!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Bridgwater Forward welcomes and supports residents living around the Brewery Field, who have taken action to save their local green space from being sold off by Sedgemoor District Council to Tesco Stores Ltd, as part of a potential development deal.
Residents have provided detailed evidence to Somerset County Council that the Brewery Field has been used continuously for a minimum of 20 years as a public space. This is to support their application to Somerset County Council to register the Brewery Field as a Town Green. If the application is successful, this will help to protect the site as a green open space for all time.

Sedgemoor District Council’s decision to sell an open space in the town centre flies in the face of its own policy to preserve green spaces and has shocked local people. They have claimed that they will have a “robust” agreement with Tesco to maintain public access to part of the open space, but Bridgwater Forward believes there is no agreement which would be watertight if Tesco decided to challenge it in the future.

The SCC registration authority will now look at the evidence and decide through a legal process, if it satisfies five well-defined criteria.

Said Bridgwater Forward Chair Dave Chapple: " We support the residents of Northgate and the Docks in their efforts to preserve one of the town's important open spaces.  We urge the County Council to grant this application for Town Green status".

Tel 01278 450562
Is Sedgemoor's 'Open Spaces' policy heading in the right direction???

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Over 100 people turned out today to picnic on Bridgwater's threatened Brewery Field  to draw attention to the unpopular plans of Tory Sedgemoor District Council to churn up the field and replace it with a gigantic Tesco's Extra store.

Anson Way resident Tricia Walsh said "We put out a line of  flags to show where the frontage of the store might come.  In fact The flags are 5 metres and the pre-planning store height is 11.75m ! The trees behind will all go and the field could be closed for a year or more during construction! "
Westover ward councillor Brian Smedley said "The Brewery Field is one of Bridgwater's last remaining public open spaces in the town centre and has been earmarked by land owners Sedgemoor & Somerset Council's to be vastly reduced in size to make way for the Tesco Development which will also obscure the view from the Docks to the Church tower. Sedgemoor hastily demolished the popular Splash swimming pool in order to clear the way for the development after serving injunctions against members of the public who occupied the building to try to save it ."

   " A Tesco development of this size and in this location will devastate not enhance the town centre and add to the traffic chaos which EDF and their failure to consider a by-pass will bring to the area. Residents in the vicinity of the field will have their lives turned upside down by a 24 hour none stop Supermarket crammed into an already tightly developed and limited space. The proof that the people of Bridgwater don't want this has been clear after the big Tory losses in the last election in the town and the fact that people are continuing to support the campaign against this ridiculous and damaging policy imposed on the people of Bridgwater by an administration that has it's strength in all 4 corners of the district but cares nothing for the town."

The protest picnic was supported by Residents, Trades Unionists, the campaign group Bridgwater Forward, and wellwishers from around the town.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

“Official vandalism?”

Bridgwater Forward’s anger at the demolition of Bridgwater’s last brickyard drying sheds

Protest letter to local media

Dear Editor,

When this letter is printed, Bridgwater’s last brickyard drying sheds will have been demolished: destroyed, that is, by official council vandalism masquerading as ‘planning permission.’

We refer to the distinctive long, low wooden-slatted sheds at the Pathfinder Terrace end of Colley Lane. These drying sheds, dating probably from the late 19th century, belonged to the firm of H J and C Major Ltd. The Colley Lane brick and tile makers, members of Ernie Bevin and Jimmie Boltz’ TGWU/Transport and General Workers Union, played their part in the town’s distinctive and often turbulent working-class history.

Their finest hour came at 7am on the morning of Thursday 6th May 1926, at the start of the General Strike. In an amazing act of solidarity, after nine loaders had been sacked for refusing to fill a scab lorry, all the workers at Henry Major’s Eastover works downed tools, and marched to other yards until over 1,000 struck by the evening.

What times!

On behalf of our campaign group Bridgwater Forward, we have to register our disgust and anger that such a vital link to our industrial past has been destroyed.

Who is responsible? Have the decency to own up! Hang your heads in shame!

Did those who voted to grant planning permission for demolition of the drying sheds for housing know anything of their history?

We ask the further question: do any of these planning officials or councillors live in Bridgwater?

We believe that nine months ago the Bridgwater Civic Society brought this matter to the council’s attention, but that nothing was done. Is this true?

There is also a possibility that some of Bridgwater’s oldest houses-we refer to numbers 3-7 North St, may also be under threat. Let’s save those houses at least!

If we were talking about a fine old country mansion in the Polden Hills, would there be this same distinct indifference?

Vandals, if caught, may get punished, but how can Bridgwater people prevent such “official vandalism” by those who have a duty of care to preserve our town?

Yours in anger,

Dave Chapple and Sally Jones,
Bridgwater Forward
01278 450562

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

SAVE OUR OPEN SPACES says Bridgwater Forward

Brewery Field Campaigners
At yesterday’s meeting of Sedgemoor District Council’s Scrutiny Committee members of the public, Labour councillors and Independent Councillor Mike Mansfield spoke passionately about their sorrow and anger over Sedgemoor District Council’s decision to sell the Brewery Field to Tesco Stores Ltd.

Nevertheless, the Tory majority on the Committee voted to maintain the decision, rather than refer it back for further consideration by full Council.

The decision had been called in by the Labour Group on the Council because sale of public open space is against the Council’s own published policy, and because sale of a public open space to a major supermarket chain is neither necessary for the building of a Tesco store on the Northgate site, nor in the interests of local people.
..Where the Tesco-Extra will be built....

In answer to questions, the Council’s Corporate Director confirmed that there is no cast-iron guarantee of public access after Tesco have taken possession of the Brewery Field. Whatever is agreed about public access at the point of sale, Tesco can apply, in the future to have this over-turned. A suggestion from the Corporate Director that we should trust Tesco was met with laughter from the packed public area.

Said Bridgwater Forward Chair Sally Jones: “Bridgwater town centre needs leisure and recreation facilities, not more supermarkets, if it is to survive. Tesco will be the death of existing town centre traders. We have said this until we’re blue in the face, but the Tories who run our Council refuse to listen. Why are they acting in the interests of big business and not in the interests of local people whose money they are spending?”
The view that will be blocked out by the development

Bridgwater Forward will continue to oppose the sale of the whole Northgate site to Tesco. When they apply for planning permission for their 60,000 square feet store in the summer, we appeal to local people to lodge formal objections, and to join the lobbies and demonstrations which will be held.

GLEN BURROWS / 07722087675

Thursday, June 23, 2011


The Brewery Field 'Sell-Off' plan
Sedgemoor District Council are facing a renewed set of challenges to their plans to turn the Brewery Field  into a massive Tescos Extra with the Battleground now set for Tuesday 28th June when the Councils Corporate Scrutiny committee will review the decision to dispose of the land.

The new Chairman of Corporate Scrutiny, Labour Councillor Brian Smedley said  "As Chair of Corporate Scrutiny it's in my power to Call in decisions made by the Council for further detailed investigation. The issue of Northgate is massively contentious and clearly warrants more scrutiny particularly in the light of ther recent events. "

Labour Town Councillor Bill Monteith at the Splash 'occupation'
At the Local Government elections on May 5th , Labour took 14 of the 16 seats in Bridgwater fighting on a campaign of opposition to Splash closure and sale of the Brewery field. Torie, who voted for the Northgate plans, were reduced from 6 to 2 seats. A clear demonstration of the opposition of the people of Bridgwater to the sell off plans.

On 16th June the new Bridgwater Town council voted unanimously to support a motion from Bridgwater Forward calling for Sedgemoor not to sell the Brewery Field to Tescos - this motion had earlier been the subject of a mass Town meeting in March and supported by a packed meeting of some 200 townspeople with only  1 vote to the contrary. 
Destruction of a swimming pool

A new petition will also be submitted to Sedgemoor entitled 'Save Brewery Field' which calls on Sedgemoor "to seriously reconsider their intention to sell the Brewery field to the Tesco supermarket chain" describing the Public Open Space as "essential green lungs" and calling for "enhanced public leisure use".

Cllr Smedley said he was unhappy at the decision taken - which had been delegated by council to the Corporate Director Doug Bamsey, because of the following reasons ;- " The failure to protect the best interests  of Sedgemoor Residents and decisions being made to dispose of land to Tesco without a retail impact survey, traffic assessment survey or appropriate and full consultation processes.

Bridgwater people protesting at Splash closure outside SDC
Officer didn't have the courtesy to reply to the Labour Group before making his decision. Not only should he have replied to the points made but he should have provided Councillors with copies of the documents requested and arranged to peg out the extent and marked the height of the proposed Tesco store as requested. 

No justification provided for Brewery field not remaining in public ownership - ie granting Tesco a licence to enter upon SDC land to carry out the works but the land fundamentally to remain in Council ownership

The loss of open space is contrary to Policy RLT1 of the Local Plan and the report does not justify the loss of 24% of the Open Space on this site in terms of alternative provision. "
The Brewery Field -Should this become a Tescos Extra??
Cllr Smedley said he intends to run the Scrutiny Committee meeting in the style of a Parliamentary select committee whereby key witnesses can present their cases and relevent officers can be called to give evidence. He also wants to institute a policy of 'Constructive inclusivity' so that members of the public can attend and feel they can contribute to the proceedings without registering in advance and can engage directly with officers and councillors so long as that contribution is constructive. 

Members of the Public are welcome to attend the meeting which will be held at Bridgwater House , King's Square at 2.30 on Tuesday 28th June.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tesco not a done deal says Bridgwater Forward

'The Brewery Field, Northgate'
 Local campaign group Bridgwater Forward is concerned that Sedgemoor District Council’s proposal to sell off a major public space in Bridgwater’s town centre to supermarket giant Tesco is being interpreted as a fait accompli, even before a planning application has been made by Tesco.

Sedgemoor District Council itself says: “Further consideration of whether the Tesco proposals are right for the Northgate site and the impact on the town and its surrounding villages will be decided via the planning process. As with any major planning application, there will be full consultation with all interested parties, including the general public, before any decision is made.”

Major concerns have been expressed by local organisations and the general public about loss of open space, noise levels, traffic congestion, and impact on existing retail outlets leading to further decline in the town centre. At 60,000 square feet, Tesco’s planned store will dwarf surrounding buildings and dominate the skyline.

All that has happened so far is that the Tories who control Sedgemoor District Council have agreed to sell the publicly-owned Northgate site to Tesco Stores Ltd. Tesco will now have to submit their proposals in the form of a planning application
Tescos- a done deal ??

“It is wrong that our town should be reduced to a turf war between major supermarket chains, and that those people who are elected to make decisions and spend our money on our behalf have no better vision for the future of our town than this. We need to preserve what is left of the historic charm of the town, enhance leisure facilities, and develop and encourage variety in our local shops” said Secretary Glen Burrows.
Bridgwater Forward firmly believes that Bridgwater does not need another superstore, and invites people and organisations to get involved in the planning process when Tesco submits its planning application, by sending letters of objection, joining lobbies and  protests and attending Council meetings to show elected representatives how strongly they feel.

GLEN BURROWS / 07722087675

Monday, May 23, 2011


The next meeting of BRIDGWATER FORWARD will be held at the RAILWAY CLUB, Wellington Road Bridgwater at 7pm on Tuesday 24th May.

Topics under consideration will include the SALE OF NORTHGATE and attendant issues .

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Lukins, Cudlipp,Kendall & Tucker
Bridgwater electors met last night at the Railway Club in Bridgwater, to discuss local issues with four candidates in the elections for Sedgemoor District Council, taking place on May 5th.

Bob Cudlipp (Independent, Wyndham) , Judith Kendall (Liberal Democrat, Victoria), Roderick Lukins (Independent, Victoria) and Ian Tucker (Labour, Dunwear) all expressed opposition to the demolition of the Splash and to the sale of the Northgate site to Tesco.

Apologies were received from the Green Party. Anger was expressed that an invitation to Conservative candidates to attend had been totally ignored.

Questions and discussion ranged from the lack of public toilets, bus shelters and facilities for young people, to concerns that Bridgwater is over-supplied with supermarkets and nuclear power stations.

People’s lack of interest in local politics is shown in the increasingly low numbers who turn out to vote”, said Chair Glen Burrows, “ with numbers as low as 27% in some wards. This isn’t just because people are apathetic. It’s also because they have no faith in many of our local politicians. If you attend meetings of the local council you can generally understand why. There is an enormous gap between voters and politicians, and meetings like this are an important step in closing that gulf by bringing people together to chew over important local issues. Most of us don’t see candidates on our doorstep, don’t attend party political meetings, and the only contact we have is with a leaflet shoved through our doors during elections”.

Bridgwater Forward exists to put pressure on Bridgwater councillors to be more accountable, listen to local people and make sensible decisions about how to spend our money. Why, for example, don’t elected councillors arrange regular ward meetings to keep in touch with their electors? Why can’t there be information and training made available to help people understand how local politics works, and how they can get involved?
26th April 2011 was the 25th Anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and a minute’s silence was held at the end of the meeting, in memory of the thousands of dead and dying who are the legacy of that event.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Bridgwater Forward - Finding what the people think
 Campaigning group Bridgwater Forward has invited candidates for the forthcoming District Council elections to answer questions put by local electors before votes are cast on May 5th

The meeting will be held on Tuesday 26th April, at 7.30pm, at the Railway Club, Wellington Road, Bridgwater and all electors in the Bridgwater area are welcome to attend.

Said Bridgwater Forward Chairs Sally Jones & Dave Chapple: “ Local elections are generally ruled by apathy, with the majority of people not even bothering to vote. We hope that, in Bridgwater, things will start to change. Recent events, like the destruction of our swimming pool, and the decision to sell publicly-owned land at Northgate to a supermarket giant famous for destroying town centres, mean it’s time we started looking more closely at the credentials and calibre of those who are elected every four years to spend our money and make decisions on our behalf.  So we have invited each party to send a couple of candidates for District Council seats in Bridgwater along to the meeting, where members of the public will have a chance to listen to their plans for Bridgwater, and to ask them direct questions. We hope that candidates will welcome this chance to discuss local issues with local voters”
 Questions sent in advance to the Secretary will be given priority at the meeting.
Fun for all the family

Tel. 01278 450562,


1 Blake Place, Bridgwater, TA6 5AU

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Hope turned to anger at Bridgwater House  today as Bridgwater Forward supporters turned up in strength to cheer on a Labour motion to get the Councils decision to sell Northgate to Tesco's rescinded. On the back of the tremendously succesful Town Meeting two days previously where townspeople overwhelmingly rejected the supermarket proposals  the audience had hoped to see Councillors at least reconsider the position and withdraw the final decision until a new council elected after May 5th could reconsider the many points raised by the motion proposed by Labour Councillors Kathy Pearce and Brian Smedley.

Ian Tucker
Ian Tucker, speaking for Bridgwater Forward at the meeting said "From the decision to close Splash it would seem that the Council have rushed through every decision as fast as possible, in some cases ignoring their own policy. The decision to sell Northgate, a prime site in the centre of town to yet another large supermarket chain is nothing short of a crime against the people of Bridgwater. Why has the monitoring officer gone against the council's own policy and given only two weeks advertised notice in the press of the intended sale of the Brewery field? Why are opposition councillors being denied certain details about the contract? Surely a meaningful debate cannot take place unless all members know all the facts? It would seem that tesco is giving nothing back to the town for building their giant supermarket. Is the council really satisfied that the consturction of additional retail stores on Northgate will revitalise the town centre and why have they not pursued Tesco for leisure facilities on Northgate which will bring people in and help revitalise the centre?"

Bob Cudlipp
Mr Bob Cudlipp addressed the council by giving a report on the Public Meeting at the town hall held 2 nights before saying "almost 200 people were present, numerous people spoke in favour of saving the Brewery field, only 1 spoke and voted in favour of Tescos. This is what the people of Bridgwater want and you should listen to us!"

After Cllrs Kathy Pearce and Brian Smedley had moved the motion and Cllr David Preece  had put the Tory position, Labour Councillor for Eastover Julian Taylor rose to speak drawing attention to the promises and failures of the ASDA development. Hardly had the debate got under way when suddenly Tory leader Duncan McGinty drew the discussions to a close and moved to   the vote  with all Tories voting to reject the challenge and thereby crush the hopes of the Townspeople.

26 Tories voted against 11 Labour & LibDem with only the Chair abstaining. 
Labour cries of "You're voting to stifle the debate!" were met by a wall of Tory silence and  a forest of uniformly raised arms in support of their leader.

An angry Ian Tucker grabbed the michrophone and said "You're all sheep!"

Monday, March 28, 2011


200 people pack the town hall for the 'Parish meeting'
Almost 200 people packed the Town Hall in Bridgwater to attend the first ever Parish meeting held in the town and roundly condemned the decision of Sedgemoor District Council to sell the Northgate land to Supermarket giant Tescos. The meeting was chaired by Town Mayor Cllr Bill Monteith and after a passionate debate the motion was overwhelmingly supported with only 1 solitary vote against.
Glen Burrows moves the motion

Moving the motion, Glen Burrows (secretary of Campaign Group Bridgwater Forward) described the evening as a "very important exercise in public participation, because our main criticism of Sedgemoor District Council is their complete lack of Public Consulation. We are all here united in our desire to preserve and enhance the town centre.  We want people to have the confidence to shop in Bridgwater. The answer to this is NOT to drop a massive 60,000 square feet supermarket into one of our major open spaces! When SDC did consult a few years ago through the Hepher Dixon report the people said they didn't want any more supermarkets and they did want a leisure led development on the site. SDC admits the ASDA development in Eastover failed and had the opposite effect to regenerate the area. Why have 'public engagement if you then do the opposite! Tonight we need to persuade Sedgemoor to review this disastrous decision and start to talk about what is really needed in Bridgwater! When a public open space is gone it's gone forever!"

Angela Tarr seconds
Seconding the motion , swimming pool campaigner Angela Tarr  said "The Brewery field was purchased for the people of  Bridgwater by the Borough Council in  the 1960's  and it has been gradually eroded over the years.This is a valued open space with a decent ammount of grass  , several trees and in the middle of a residential area. It shouldn't be sold to any developer who can then do what they like to it! It would be a total betrayal of trust to the people of Bridgwater and I object strongly!"

Linda Brigg ,said "Tescos says it will bring extra jobs but this doesn't add up. Families have their budgets and they won't increase that to shop at more supermarkets so jobs will be lost elsewhere. There will be chaos on the roads and Bridgwater won't be going anywhere fast. We don't need yet another supermarket!"

Sally Jones said "How long will the Brewery Field remain an open space once Tescos get hold of it?  Tesco won't bring back what the town has lost. Who will want to trade next to Tesco!"
Townspeople engage in the debate

Patricia Walsh, an Anson Way resident, said "People need to realise the scale of what is being proposed. Morrisons is 22,000 square feet, Asda is 35,000 and Sainsburys 44,000.....Tesco will be 60,000! It will take 12 to 15 months to construct, they'll excavate down to 12 feet, pile drivers, bulldozers and then 33 lorries a day will service it."

Dave Chapple "Meeting offers hope"
Dave Chapple said "This meeting offers us hope. The hope that people in this town will not forever be ruled by Conservatives who don;t live in the town! The old Bridgwater Borough council had one of the best Housing and Social Services records in the County and if we're going to get back to a position where we have a Town Council  run for the people of the town and eliminate Tory rule. "

Nick Gibson said "Brewery Field was given to the people of Bridgwater and so it should pass to the town Council. We've had con-con-con-consultation and we don't want a supermarket and now it seems we're getting one. It's just another example of the rape and pillage of Bridgwater by Sedgemoor District Council. If they don;t want something - dump it in Bridgwater, and anything in Bridgwater they can make money from, they sell. It makes me angry!"
Nick Gibson "It makes me angry"

Tory market stall holder Lance Duddridge admitted he didn't know if Tescos would be a good or a bad thing but he felt there was too much doom and gloom around and thought maybe it would bring more people into the town.

Alec Western said "Theres a lot more to life than another supermarket and especially something that will look so hideous.  This is our town, there's no need to sell the whole of the Brewery field. What about peoples quality of life? To lose that land forever is treasonable. What are we leaving to our children? What else are we going to lose? "

Kathy Wilson said "The town centre is already dying on it's feet so what has Bridgwater got left? What happened to our swimming pool which they said was past it's sell by date? Well, Brean Leisure centre is doing very well with its flumes   sold to them at a knock down price !"

Glen Burrows summed up the debate "When people talk about 'living in the real world' they're right, we do have to make some big decisions, but when  Sedgemoor says theres no money  they are wrong. When they need to find money they can find it. In the 'real world' I wouldn't pay a Chief Executive £92,000  a year. There are Elections this May -Don't vote for the people who voted to demolish the Splash!"
The Mayor calls for the vote

The Mayor Bill Monteith said "The position of the Town Council has always been that SDC shouldn't have demolished the Splash, any swimming facility should be town centre based, and the Supermarket development proposed is not condusive to the Town Centre. This has come about because SDC are cash strapped  and once you've cut your staff and your services then you sell things. If it wasn't for the Town Council picking up the pieces we would have lost the Museum and the Town hall by April 1st, Grass wouldn't be cut, there'd be no public toilets and we've also taken on the Allotments and the Cemetries. You're right the Tories don't live here and their policies are regretable and reprehensible."

The meeting voted on the motion which called on the Town Council to oppose the sale of Northgate to Tescos. The room was a forest of hands in support with one lonely Tescos fan exercising his democratic right.
People leave the historical meeting UNITED

The motion will now go to the Bridgwater Town Council meeting of April 14th.

All eyes now turn to the SDC meeting of Wednesday 30th March where the Labour Group have tabled a motion calling on SDC to rescind the decision to sell the Northgate land to Tescos.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Bridgwater Forward is urging everyone to attend the special TOWN MEETING to be held at the Town Hall on Monday 28th March at 7.30.  The only item on the agenda will be one urging the Town Council to reject the Tesco's development on Northgate. Any elector of Bridgwater can attend, speak and vote, although the recommendation will then go to the 16 Town Councillors for a final decision on the motion. 

The meeting will be chaired by the Mayor Cllr Bill Monteith.

On Wednesday 30th March the Labour Group have submitted an urgent motion  to the Sedgemoor District Council Meeting (2.30) calling on the decision to sell Northgate to be rescinded.  This will be the last SDC meeting before ther new council is elected on May 5th.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Sedgemoor District Council revealed today their plans to sell off the Northgate site of the former Splash pool in Bridgwater to Tescos as part of a major superstore development when they posted notice of the sale in the Bridgwater Mercury and on their website. The Notice and accompanying map showed that the Brewery field in it's entirity would be part of the sale as opposed to the suggested loss of 1/3 of the site.

The notice reads as follows;-
Sedgemoor District Council is considering the disposal of Brewery Field at Northgate Bridgwater. It is proposed that the land will be disposed of by way of a freehold transfer to Tesco Stores Limited to facilitate a mixed use development. This development will include a smaller, but enhanced Brewery Field, hard landscaped public space, new retail units and office accommodation and a new Tesco Extra store.
Members of the public who wish to comment or object to the proposal should send their comments or objection to Tim Mander, Team Leader – Property Management in writing by 5 pm on Tuesday 22nd March 2011.
A plan of the proposed land together with further details of the proposed development can be obtained either by contacting Mr T Mander on 01278 435331
email:; from the Council’s website or from Reception at Bridgwater House Reception, King Square, Bridgwater TA6 3AR during normal office hours.
Sedgemoors plans for Brewery field as advertised on their website

Bridgwater Forward activists and local residents are expected to object in the strongest terms to the issue of the notice. Recently 6 members of Bridgwater Forward succesfully petititoned the Town Council to urgently debate the sale of Northgate at a Special Town meeting to be held on 28th march.Local residents of Anson Way,Blacklands and Mount street are angry about the proposed development and have urged people to contact the Council to object to the proposal.

Cllr Kathy Pearce, Leader of the Labour group on Sedgemoor District Council   said "The Brewery Field is one of Sedgemoor's greatest assets which is a valued green space in the heart of the town.  To 'dispose' of it with the rest of Northgate without any legal protection to preserve the field for future generations is outrageous.  This completely undermines Sedgemoor's statement in their Corporate Strategy which we all signed up to and pledged to "Protect and enhance the environment - to lead environmental management, managing open spaces, caring for our historical assets and championing high standards of urban design and development".  As with the commitment to save the Splash until a replacement was built, these pledges are completely ignored when it suits them.The town is rapidly expanding with new developments and we desperately need to hold on to and enhance what few open spaces we have."

Cllr Brian Smedley , Shadow portfolio for Health & WellBeing  wrote the following letter to SDC Corporate director Doug Bamsey asking for an explanation. 
Dear Mr Bamsey

With regard to the  Notice in the Mercury today regarding the disposal of the  Brewery Field, (also  on the SDC website) can you confirm my understanding that Sedgemoor are now flogging off the whole of the Brewery Field to Tesco and not "just" that bit required for building the new store? 

I have to say the breadth of the sale has surprised me. Maybe it shouldn;t have, so  can you confirm that this knowledge was made clear to members and if so exactly where? 

I suspect very few other people realised the extent of the sale and had assumed that your intentions were minimal in constantly stating that only 1/3 of the Brewery field site would be surrendered and you meant exactly that and not every last blade of grass.    

I have written to Melanie Wellman asking for access to the whole 'Development Agreement' document and am encountering some resistance and so I am a bit concerned about  exactly what else is being witheld from members and from the public here.

Could you please urgently furnish me with some answers?

Cllr Brian Smedley

Thursday, March 3, 2011


"Another First for Bridgwater!" declared Sally Jones, Chair of Bridgwater Forward , as Bridgwater Town Council responded positively to the Campaign Groups request for the First 'Town Meeting' of it's kind ever to be held in Bridgwater. "Now everybody come along and air your views!".
Sally Jones (Chair of Bridgwater Forward) Cllr Bill Monteith (Town Mayor)

Town Mayor Cllr Bill Monteith thanked Bridgwater Forward for asking for the meeting and introducing members to ".. the vagaries of "section 9 and 13 part 3 of schedule 12 of the 1972 local Government Act which obliged Town Councils to call a public meeting to which anyone was invited in order to discuss a key single agenda item. " The meeting was set for 7.30 on Monday 28th March and would be held at the Town Hall. The Mayor , who will chair the meeting, stressed that "..anyone could speak, under the usual conditions, but the only participants eligible to vote were the elected councillors. This motion is clearly something which is within our remit."

The Local Government Act says that 6 electors can request such a meeting . In this case the 6 signatories, Sally Jones, Bob Cudlip, Glen Burrows, Dave Chapple, Ian Tucker and Angela Tarr, submitted the following resolution.

"That this town believes that the sale of the Northgate site to Tesco Ltd will be detrimental both to the historic and cultural character of our town, and to the future of retail trading in the High Street and Eastover, where there are already clear and continuing signs of a serious down-turn in trade."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


The Northgate site of the former Swimming pool
Bridgwater Forward have requested a Bridgwater Town meeting to discuss the sale of the Northgate site to Tesco Stores Ltd. because Sedgemoor District Council have refused to consult properly with local electors over this sale of publicly-owned land. This approach was tried recently In Yeovil as Ken Keable from Yeovil Trades Council reports.

The  Yeovil town meeting on the cuts in public services was held on 19th February. This was the first such meeting in 15 years.  Everyone who wanted to speak was able to do so.

It is important to record the fact that no Conservatives turned up to defend their party’s policies. This seems to me to show contempt for the people of Yeovil and for the democratic process. I also think that our MP Mr Laws, who had been invited, should at least have sent an apology for his non-attendance, but he did not. As he is a strong supporter of the policy of cutting public expenditure, and hopes to return to the cabinet at a high level, perhaps this meeting would have been embarrassing for him. His Lib-Dem colleagues on the Town Council took the position of condemning the cuts locally that their party is imposing nationally (claiming that different services should have been cut, though they didn’t say which).  

Taunton student Rob Thompson speaks against the Coalition cuts
Two Lib-Dem councillors proposed an amendment to delete condemnation of the Coalition government, so that it would only condemn the (Tory- controlled) County Council, but this was lost and not even all the Lib-Dem councillors present supported it. This shows that the Lib-Dems are divided and deeply unhappy about the developing situation and that the Coalition does not exist at local level. This should become even more evident in the local elections on 5th May.

As I said at the meeting, these cuts are not necessary at all. Britain is the fourth richest country in the world but the wealth is concentrated in very few hands. This concentration of vast wealth in fewer and fewer hands has grown ever more extreme under New Labour and is continuing. The solution is to make the super-rich and the big corporations pay more tax, not to cut services and benefits, which is deeply unjust and will only make the economic crisis worse by reducing demand for goods and services, thereby causing more company closures and more loss of jobs in the private sector.  It will also reduce the tax take.

A wealth tax of two per cent on the richest ten per cent of the population would raise £78 billion (still leaving them with 98 per cent of their wealth). A 20 per cent windfall tax on profits in the banking, energy, retail foods, arms and pharmaceutical industries would raise £16 billion. A “Robin Hood” tax on City financial transactions could raise £20 billion per year and a clampdown on tax dodgers and on British-ruled tax havens could raise £70 billion per year. That is not mentioning the £131 billion owed to the taxpayer by the bailed-out banks.

Protestors opposing the cutbacks
The cabinet in Whitehall contains 18 millionaires. The claim by Cameron, Osborne and Clegg – three millionaires -  that “we are all in this together” convinces fewer and fewer people, especially as the poorest and most vulnerable (who rely most on the services being cut) are being hardest hit although they did nothing to cause the crisis.

As I and other speakers from the Yeovil and District Trades Union Council said, the town meeting was not an end in itself but part of an ongoing campaign. The next part of this campaign is the national demonstration in London called by the TUC for Saturday 26th March. The trades unions are providing buses from Yeovil, Bridgwater  and all over the UK to this great event and details can be found on our website. Already half a million people are expected. It is another opportunity to make our voices heard.