Bridgwater Forward demonstrated outside todays Special meeting of Sedgemoor District Council and members and supporters spoke passionately at the meeting but all to no avail as the massive Tory majority silently voted through plans that would turn the former Splash site into a Tesco Extra that could hammer the final nail into the coffin of Bridgwater Town centre.
60 members of the Public attended the meeting and made their feelings clear to the Tory run Council who nevertheless voted 28- 8 (with 1 abstention) to trash the town centre , hack up green space and blight the properties of neighbouring residents . All Labour and LibDem members voted against the plans but to their eternal shame even the 6 Bridgwater Tories turned their back on the town.
Splash campaigner Peter Smith pointed a finge at Chief Executive Kerry Rickards "If the pool is not built by 2012 Mr Rickards said he would resign -and probably still get a golden handshake. But if we look at the legacy of the Cheddar pool we know that Sedgemoor is NOT in control of it's own destiny. Theres too much arrogance and a lack of credibility. This is the last chance saloon , the last chance to save your souls and with them the credibility of SDC!"
Labour councillor Julian Taylor said "This council simply doesn't learn fro mthe lessons of the past. There are no guarantees that they won't be making the same mistake again that they did with Eastover when they brought ASDA in. Is a 'MultiNational really going to be concerned about small retailers in Bridgwater? Tesco's mission is to close down other retailers."
Highbridge LibDem leader Joe Leach said "60,000 sq ft is a huge store. Look what happened when Tescos did this in Shepton Mallet - the town centre was destroyed. In Highbridge they putin an ASDA with just 40,000 sq ft and the High st is dying. Once it;s gone,it;s gone for good".
Ian Tucker pushed Tory leader McGinty to justify his position by saying " Is he satisfied that the development will not harm the town centre as developments of this kind have destroyed towns in other areas? Have the council been pro-active in encouraging other large companies such as M&S into the town? "
While the majority of Tories sat quietly ( until the final inevitable vote) Cllr McGinty attempted to justify their policy "Bridgwater is only 32% of Sedgemoor and in fact it's 500th in a list of where companies want to open shops Nationally!!. Yes it;s a risk but we believe it can be minimised. This is better value than the Community could have expected in the circumstances and in future it will glow! (this was believed n ot to be a reference to the EDF plans for a new Nuclear power station)"
As the Tories silently, yet massively , outvoted their Labour and LibDem opponents the measured restraint of the bitterly dissapointed crowd boiled over into anger as people shouted "Shame!"and "Disgrace!" at the Ruling group .