|200 people pack the town hall for the 'Parish meeting'|
|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|
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"|
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.