– PRESS REPORT FROM BRIDGWATER FORWARD
The special open meeting of Bridgwater Town Council with representatives from Tesco Stores Ltd, held on 19th March in Bridgwater Town Hall, showed continued anger and scepticism from more than 100 residents and traders over Tesco’s plan to build a giant superstore on Bridgwater’s Northgate site.
Emma Heeson from Tesco, said the development would provide 260 jobs, but later agreed that only around 80 would be full-time, some of these filled by staff from existing Tesco stores. An audience member pointed out that many of these would be jobs caused by closure of existing retail outlets. Tesco’s job promises are already highly suspect: in 2007, they said they would provide 30,000 jobs in Britain between 2008-10. In reality, they provided just over 11,000, and most of these were part-time.
Gareth Hooper from Tesco said the superstore was needed to prevent current “leakage” of shoppers from Bridgwater. A member of Bridgwater Forward said: "Leakage can't be caused by lack of supermarkets -we've already got plenty!”
A local trader said Eastover had been turned into a retail wasteland by ASDA, and Tesco will do the same to the town centre.
Many technical questions highlighting problems with noise, pile-driving, drainage, traffic congestion, and potential damage to local homes were referred to the forthcoming planning application for final answers. Tesco estimate this will be submitted in six weeks’ time.
A Bridgwater Forward supporter said "The moral question is: what is Tesco bringing to Bridgwater? We know they'll bring profits to their shareholders who don't live here, but what benefit will they bring to the town? What we'll lose is clear: 200 years of history. The Blake Hospital where our grandparents were sent to the workhouse, the Splash swimming pool, another iconic feature, and the Brewery Field, two thirds of which will disappear. If Tesco are given the go-ahead, that space will be lost to the community and gone forever!"
An informal vote was taken at the end of the meeting, and only 3 or 4 people showed their support for Tesco, the angry majority voting vigorously against.
The next meeting of Bridgwater Forward is on 29th March, 7pm at the Railway Club, Wellington Road, when the strategy to oppose the planning application will be discussed.
The fight against Tesco continues!
FURTHER DETAILS: Glen Burrows 01278 450562