Thursday, December 20, 2012


Protestors outside Bridgwater House
Members of Bridgwater Forward took to the streets this week to demonstrate against Sedgemoor District Councils involvement alongside co-landowners Somerset County Council in the recent Tesco fee-pay scandal . A well attended protest outside the Full Council meeting on the 19th December was followed by several interventions at the meeting itself during Public speaking time.
Glen Burrows said afterwards "In answer to my question: ' Was the £20,000 originally part of the planning application fee requested of Tesco Ltd? " the answer was a very firm "Yes"

"In answer to my question: " Is flexibility of planning fees available to all applicants, or only to Tesco Ltd?" the answer was a very firm "No. Planning fees are fixed and there is no negotiating"!

'So complacent they don't care'
"They can't have it both ways! 1) Tesco has not paid the fee originally requested 2) Somerset County Council has paid that part of the fee, so council taxpayers have enabled Tesco to pay £20,000 less than was originally asked. Sedgemoor are now happy to admit this, but are so complacent that they don't care!"
"It's a bad situation if a planning authority is openly favouring a developer in advance of a decision being made about a major development proposal submitted by that developer. Furthermore, both authorities are joint landowners in this case. Our view is that the decision should go to an independent inquiry, since Sedgemoor are patently incapable of making an objective planning decision in this case. "
Sally Jones said " The whole process has been unfair right from the start. Now we are expected to submit questions for a meeting in January over Christmas period.!"
Alec Western expressed his sadness at the censorship of his  contribution to the Planning debate. He had submitted  his observations to the Council website only to find them first heavily censored and then removed. He said " I carefully laid out my concerns and objections and a large proportion was deemed irrelevent by the planning department . Please inform me why other letters as submitted were not also subject to the same degree of censorship."
'No subsidies for Tesco'
SDC leader Cllr Duncan McGinty said "SDC has a policy to ensure that innapropriate comments are not published however we will treat this issue as a formal complaint."
'So what is the truth?!"
Bob Cudlip asked "So what is the truth about the Tesco fee issue? The chief exec of SCC  has said that SDC and SCC were working together to share the costs of the planning application."
Cllr McGinty replied " SDC hasn't paid a penny to Tesco."
The protestors concerns were taken up by Labour Councill Ian Tucker who tried to ask from within the meeting for clarification of the Tesco Fee payment only to be told by Chief Executive Kerry Rickards "It has been paid in full by Somerset County Council and I am looking forward to explaining this to the Corporare Scrutiny committee investigation in February."

Monday, December 3, 2012



Today’s meeting of Sedgemoor’s Corporate Scrutiny Committee showed that Sedgemoor Tories do not understand public accountability! The news that Somerset County Council has subsidised Tesco’s planning application to the tune of £20,000 of taxpayers’ money was met with suggestions from Tory councillors that “Somerset County Council should deal with this”!

Bridgwater Forward says local people want to know why and how a deal was struck that enabled Tesco to duck part of their planning application fees, and why taxpayers have been asked to foot the bill!

Labour councillors have tried to call officers and councillors to account for bailing out Tesco, who have refused to pay the full cost of their planning application to build on the Brewery Fields and Northgate site.

'willing to subsidise a supermarket giant'

Councillor Julian Taylor (Labour) asked why a relatively impoverished local authority would be willing to subsidise a supermarket giant, and why it had taken so long to get answers to questions about the delays.

Given the unnecessary  demolition of the Splash swimming pool and now this subsidy for Tesco , it is easy  to understand why local people have lost faith and  confidence in the ability of  Sedgemoor District  Council to act in the best interests of Bridgwater.

Bridgwater Forward calls for an independent public inquiry into the proposed sale of the Northgate site to Tesco.