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supporters turned up in strength to cheer on a Labour motion to get the Councils decision to sell Northgate to Tesco's rescinded.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."