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.

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