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.