Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bridgwater Forward says “it’s time Sedgemoor Tories declared an interest!”

It's astonishing that councillors who've supported community campaigns to save the Splash and prevent the sale of the Brewery Field are pressurised into 'declaring an interest'.

This surely confuses “taking an interest”, with declaring a “financial interest” : a strategy mainly aimed at preventing councillors from making decisions which will benefit them financially. It also attempts to stifle councillors who don't toe the Council line on any matter of public interest.

However,  isn’t there an ethical problem over any councillor who voted to sell the Northgate site to Tesco, also sitting on the Planning Committee which will decide whether or not Tesco is to be allowed to build its mammoth superstore on the Northgate site and Brewery Fields?

Sedgemoor District Council will receive £8 million for the sale of the Northgate site to Tesco. How then can members of the Planning Committee make an objective decision about the application to build a Tesco Extra there?

The solution is clear: the whole Tesco application must be referred to a public inquiry, with disinterested parties charged with making the decision.


Further information:   07813 562 869 /

Monday, November 26, 2012


The local plan says: “Tesco’s wealth
Is less important than our health

Green spaces must be allowed to stay
So children have somewhere to play”.

They ask our view of planning laws
And we say “No more superstores!”

Yet councillors look the other way
When they find Tesco willing to pay

To ruin our town, our heritage.
No wonder we’re in such a rage!

Consider, then, how people’s need
Is sacrificed to corporate greed

Your friendly local butchers’ shop
Trembling, awaits the Tesco chop

For Tesco are the bully boys
They’ll tell you where to buy your toys

And fridges, knickers, petrol, rice
All at a quite amazing price

But when the smaller shops have ceased
Guess what? Prices will be increased

They’ll bring us jobs you cry, they must!
Well, not if other shops go bust

Councillors cry – no other way
You’ve seen the bills we have to pay!

Yes – we saw how much it cost to destroy
The Splash, our much missed pride and joy

We’ve lost tourists and revenue to our town
No wonder shops are closing down

We know what brings visitors to our door
It isn’t supermarkets, that’s for sure

Because we’ve got six at this minute
Another makes no sense now, innit?

They say the developer is King
And superstores a wonderful thing

We say our town means more to us
Than being part of Tesco’s surplus

We want to keep our docks and green.
Scoops, Sarah’s Dairy, Aclands mean

More to us than a shopping mall
With Tesco products wall to wall

So, wake up Bridgwater, wake up and yell
Tell Tesco they can go to hell


A poem by Glen Burrows

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Tesco -The Shepton Mallet Effect

Cllr Ian Tucker
At todays Planning Panel meeting of Bridgwater Town Council it was agreed to object to the proposal to build a Tesco on the Northgate site in Bridgwater. Town Councillor Ian Tucker (Labour,Dunwear) seconded the motion and explains below his studies that have shaped his decision.
"At a full council meeting on the 9th November 2011, I submitted a written question asking, amongst other things, 'can the leader confirm whether any research was  undertaken on the effect large supermarkets have had on other towns before signing the agreement to sell Northgate to Tesco' In response the Leader stated that with regard to the planning process ' this would inevitably involve an element of consideration of the impact on the Town Centre'  He would not go further on this except by saying that 'it would not be appropriate to interfere in the independent regulatory process that the Development Committee would go through'. To this day this question has never been answered although I think we all know the answer, I therefore decided to do a small survey myself.
The Shepton Mallet example
On passing through Shepton Mallet, on the way to the Independence Day event at Frome, it was clear that the town, although only a fraction of the size of Bridgwater
is very much laid out in a similar manner. I therefore decided to undertake a small survey on the effect Tesco has made since moving to the edge of this town.
Tesco is situated in a retail area separated from the town by a busy road, very much the same as is the case with the Northgate site.
The store is the largest unit, roughly 3/4 the size of Bridgwater's Asda, and is at the end of several fairly large retail units. The store consists of about 2/3 rds food
and 1/3 clothing and white goods. The other retail units are occupied by :- Pam Perem Pets - Laura Ashley - New Look - Sports Direct - Boots - Argos
There is a Tesco petrol station on site (as well as a Texaco one just outside) and a costa coffee shop a short walk away. There is free parking for several
hundred cars for a maximum of 2 hours.
town planners inaction......
Detrimental effect on the town
I crossed the busy main road to the tourist information centre which is part of Haskins retail Park. This retail park is comparable to Angel Place in its position to Tesco and the High street, although it is much posher. Screw Fix, DIY, Furniture and carpet outlets all under one roof with no empty units or cheap pound shops.
The staff in the information centre stated that since Tesco and the retail outlets had arrived there had been an increase in their customer numbers.This is probably due to the fact that Tesco attracts visitors going to Wells and beyond who can't help but see the information centre opposite. The Haskins retail park has experienced  a small downturn in foot fall, but I couldn't establish how much although it did not seem very busy at 1.00pm on a Monday.
I then went to the far end of the High street and visited eight different traders on the way back up. Every trader told me that Tesco and the retail units has had a detrimental
effect on the town. Some said that they could only go on because of the local loyalty of customers, others saying that if things get worse they will have to pack up
altogether. The owner of a large haberdashery told me that if he hadn't owned the shop outright he would not have been able to go on.
There is a Martins which contains a post office about half way down, the manager who was busy elsewhere I was told use to manage the one in Bridgwater. The assistant
I spoke to knows Bridgwater and just shrugged his shoulders saying "oh well another town heading for disaster"
Ian Tucker takes his campaign 'on the road'
A main road cuts across the high street , with the cross roads controlled by traffic lights. This compares to the town bridge in Bridgwater and the shops below to Eastover.
This is where the majority of vacant shops are. However I noticed none of them were boarded up and therefore they did not look so bad as those in Bridgwater.
In fact one had very attractive posters depicting life in Victorian times. Probably left over from the TV show some time ago featuring Shepton Mallet.
After seeing the traders I was very concerned that my time had now expired at the Tesco car park, and quickly moved my car to a pay and display park which is run for the Haskins retail centre. The cost of parking here is 90p per hour and it was about half full. The traders had told me originally the Tesco car park was free for 3 hours, others  said 4. Tesco had changed it to 2 hours some time ago, this left hardly any time to do shopping in the high street.
habit of banking land
I then went over to the council offices and met up with Cllr Jeannette Marsh a sitting councillor on Mendip District Council and Mr. Graham Brown who is the clerk to
the Town Council. Both had no doubt that although Tesco promised to bring economic benefits to the town centre the complete opposite has been the case.
They told me the previous smaller Tesco store was situated about a mile away and presented no problem, and although struggling the town centre was managing to
survive. Tesco had some problem at first letting the retail units although Boots and New Look did move from the High street at an early stage. The properties vacated by these
outlets still remain empty. A great deal of anger is still being felt over the move by Boots as it now means people, including the elderly, have to climb up a steep hill and
negotiate a busy road to get medical supplies as there is no other chemist in Shepton.
A short discussion then took place on the way Tesco do business. When applying for planning permission they stated that the store would be mainly food but may include
a small clothing outlet. However the adjacent unit remained empty for a while and was eventually taken over by Tesco and now sells TV's and other electrical goods.
The council apparently put a condition on the old Tesco site that it should not be sold by Tesco for retail use. However after some time it was eventually sold and became a
market garden owned by Dobbies, a company owned by- you've guessed it Tesco ! It was also pointed out that Tesco are in the habit of banking land, after doing the
minimum of build to satisfy planning regs then leaving it for years until trading picks up or land prices increase.
"We just hope your council knows what it's doing'
t wasn't clear where the section 106 money had gone but I was told that there was something like £175K for the town centre. I got the impression that there was some more
money put into the coffers of Mendip District Council, but like so many other places it has been used for various projects which are probably unknown to the public or probably
some of the councillors for that matter. I didn't think it was my place to ask too many questions of a financial nature although the town clerk did say he would email me interesting
information at a later date when he had got it together.
Finally they told me that we have a fight on our hands. In Shepton there had been a great deal of opposition by many in the council and the local residents had formed a pressure
group which managed to get a great deal of publicity, especially when they chained themselves to trees. When I told them it was council prime land that was being sold to Tesco they said " Well we just hope your council knows what it is doing"
Although Shepton is a fraction of the size of Bridgwater its layout is very similar. This very brief report I think proves that when a supermarket does move adjacent to the town centre
it does not regenerate the high street as Tesco and our council claim. The Shepton experience also shows how ruthless Tesco can be, caring nothing for the local community and only interested in money. There is one big concern for them however and that is the opening of a giant Morrisons store soon only five miles away. The fear is that even this
development will suffer and the whole shopping experience will shift towards Wells.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


"We have reached a vital stage in the battle to save Bridgwater's town centre. We need everyone's help now in letting Sedgemoor know of their objections to this monster development. We'vegot until 30th November to write or email our objections.

 It isn't just a matter of one supermarket rather than another, but of the impact of a development of this size on the town, its people and existing retail outlets.

"A Monster building that will Dwarf the Landscape"

Why have Sedgemoor not marked out the space which would be occupied by this monster, as we have requested many times? Why? Because they know the shock this will provoke. Many people mistakenly think the development  is going to fit into the space  occupied by the former Splash, and don't realise that historic buildings and green space will be demolished to make way for a monster building that will dwarf the landscape.

If you want to see a smaller version of the "Tesco effect", go to Eastover and look at the Asda effect on local shops there. You ain't seen nothing yet!

"Aren't enough shopping Baskets to go round"

For a Tesco Extra to be viable as a business proposition, roughly 100,000 shopping baskets and trolleys per week will be needed That isn't just competition, it's annihilation for other businesses - and probably other supermarkets too. There just aren't enough shopping baskets to go round in a town with a population of around 40,000.

The jobs bonanza won't be anything of the sort - jobs will simply move from existing outlets to Tesco.

As for prices: it's a fair bet that Tesco's prices will be low enough at first to attract shoppers' loyalty away from other stores, but what will happen to those prices when the competition has gone bust?

"It's time we showed loyalty to our town"

As for Loyalty cards: Tesco only show loyalty to their corporate profits and shareholders. It's time we showed loyalty to our town and fought to preserve what we've got. And how about some loyalty from a Council that asked us a few years ago what we wanted to see in our town centre. We said overwhelmingly: "No more supermarkets. More leisure facilities".

It's very simple: Bridgwater neither needs nor wants another supermarket.


Saturday, November 3, 2012


Tesco’s application to build a massive Tesco Extra on the Northgate site has finally been officially registered. It’s vitally important that members of the public submit objections NOW – this can be done on-line from the Council’s web-site( , or in writing to the Case Officer, Rebecca Miller (all details are on the web-site)
The public has until 30th November to comment on the application. Go to the Sedgemoor District Council web-site, and then go to the Planning section. The Tesco Planning Application Number is 08/12/00168, or you can find it by just ticking on the box for Weekly Lists

You can also find advice here about how to comment on an application, and the things that the Planning Committee will take into account:

 The things you can comment on are:

• National, Regional and Local Planning Policy and guidance.
• The appearance and character of the area or street, including the design and
materials of buildings, landscaping and tree loss,
• Other environmental issues (e.g. noise),
• Traffic generation and road safety,
• Impact of the building on its neighbours (e.g. overshadowing, overlooking or
loss of privacy),
• Effects on the landscape and the need to protect the open countryside.
• If you are not opposed in principle to a proposal but believe that restrictions
should be placed on the development (e.g. hours of working, appropriate materials)
then you may wish to suggest conditions that Sedgemoor District Council could
impose on any consent.

Issues the Case Officer can’t include when assessing an application, are:
• Civil matters such as land ownership, private rights of way and restrictive
covenants. These are usually private matters on which objectors may need to
get legal advice.
• The fact that development may have already begun. If permission is refused
the Council has powers to have the matter rectified.
• Matters that fall within other legislation, for example, building regulations
or consent to discharge into a watercourse.
• Loss of an attractive view from a private property.
• The fear that an objector’s house may be devalued. You should focus your
comments on why the proposal could result in a loss of value to a private

Have a look at the detailed plans, in case you hadn’t realised what a massive building this will be, and the existing buildings and green space which will have to disappear.

Don’t let Tesco get away with destroying our Town Centre