Violence and confrontation since Tesco opened
Within a week of Tesco opening its doors Stokes Croft has found itself the focal point of serious violence and confrontation. Over the last few years our beloved community has undergone an amazing home grown resurgence. We are therefore devastated that Tesco’s refusal to listen to what the majority of local people want has resulted in our vibrant, peaceful community being subject to such a sad state of affairs.
We are also deeply saddended to witness the reality that we live in society in which young people feel the only way to see justice done is to throw rocks. The reality is the government / corporations / media have created this society and are now trying to blame young people for the mess they have created. What future can we hope for if corporations are allowed to continue to dictate governments? If their insatiable appetite for profit is allowed to reign supreme?
Year long peaceful protest
For over a year the majority of the local community have worked hard to peacefully campaign to stop Tesco from opening. 2500 people sent postcards to the Council, thousands more signed petitions and 96% of 700 people surveyed said they don’t want a Tesco. Despite such overwhelming opposition Tesco decided to totally ignore the wishes of the majority of the community.
Justice undermined through the planning system
We painstakingly navigated the planning system and presented an overwhelmingly strong legal case for the Council to refuse Tesco planning permission to open. Yet Planning Officers ignored our objections and refused to engage with us. We insisted an impact assessment was needed around the threat over 40 deliveries to the store would pose to our community’s safety. Planning Officers told us this would be illegal and so refused. We pointed to the fact that Cambridge City Council had refused permission for the same application on the grounds of deliveries. Again we were ignoed. Various legal experts confirmed we were correct. Yet still Planning Officers refused to discuss this with us. Yet just minutes before permission was granted, the Council’s solicitor finally admitted they had got it wrong and the threat posed by deliveries to the store was in fact a ‘material consideration’. However, but this stage Councillors were thoroughly confused and so granted permission anyway.
We are currently pursuing a Judicial Review of the Council’s decision because we are of the firm belief that Planning Officers failed to follow proper procedure regarding deliveries to the store and subsequently wrongly granted permission for Tesco to open. Watch this space for updates.
We think it is essential that Tesco does not reopen on Cheltenham Road. We do understand that they feel it is important to not be seen to give into violence. However we feel strongly that their withdrawal would simply be a long overdue recognition that they are not wanted in our community. On their website and in their Corporate Social Reponsibility report Tesco claim to listen to the local community as soon as they identify a site. We are calling on Tesco to remain true to this. To recognise that they are not a positive contribution in our community and that the only fair thing to do is leave.
We are soon to begin mediated negotiations with Tesco and other key stakeholders. We look forward to being able to discuss this with Tesco and can only hope that they come to the table as human beings with their hearts wide open, rather than as representatives of their corporation who have left their moral values at home with their spouse and children.
By Claire Milne, campaigner
Bristol City Council gives go ahead for Tesco in Cheltenham Road by 4 votes to 3
Councillors voted by 4-3 in favour of allowing Tesco to open. The remaining barriers, according to our planning system were the noise assesment to the rear, where Tesco intend to install huge freezers and chiller rooms. The detail of the shop fronts were also in dispute, and it was also considered by the Anti- Tesco group that there had been no impact assessment over servicing of the proposed retail unit, and that this should be a material consideration.
Councillors, who voted in favour of Tesco were, Cllr. Mark Bradshaw, Cllr. Kent, Cllr.Clark, and Cllr. a.n.other…
Councillors who voted against were, Cllr. Chris Windows, Cllr. Derek Pickup, and Cllr. and Chairperson Alex Woodman. In his summing up, Alex Woodman said that “In the back of his mind that Tesco would probably go to appeal”, and that BCC would have to foot the legal bill…
The meeting was well attended, and the speeches submitted were universally against permission being given to Tesco. Most poignant of these speeches was that of Richard Fox of Radford Mill Organic Farm Shop in Picton Street, whose business will be directly affected. He questioned what the planning process was for, suggesting that it should be about delivering what is good for the Community and, indeed, the planet. Claire Milne, who heads up the No Tesco campaign, had succeeded in drawing together a vast array of relevant information, which clearly gave our elected councillors sufficient leeway to refuse planninng permission had they been so minded to do…
Chris Chalkley of PRSC attempted to expound clearly what had happened over the last 12 months, and what was at stake. His speech is reported below:
At this late juncture, I think it is perhaps appropriate to review the journey that has brought us to this point, because this will help us to see more clearly.
The applicant, Tesco PLC, applied for change of use in the name of an agent, with a Bath address, fulfilling the minimum legal requirement for consultation. ie. a small ad in the Evening Post, one A4 poster in the street, and 50 letters to locals, to which there were no replies to the Planning Dept.
As soon as Tesco’s possible arrival became common knowledge, there was furore. 2500 complaints were sent to the planning dept. 93% of locals who were surveyed said that they did not want a supermarket in the former Jesters Comedy Club. On top of this, the building was squatted by locals who started to use the buildings as a community space. These squatters were evicted by bailiffs in March at a reported cost of £60,000. It is still not clear who footed that bill.
It is difficult to imagine that Tesco PLC did not expect resistance…
Since then, five security guards have guarded the property 24hours a day, seven days a week. Barricaded front and rear, the property resembles a military encampment. Can this supermarket that claims that “Community is at the Heart of everything we do” really be in such fear of the community they intend to serve?
It is our contention that the Community was hoodwinked: Because the local community forfeited the right to make its opinions felt from the beginning, we have been forced to fight this campaign on narrow grounds. Today we are notionally here to discuss shop fronts, congestion and probable noise levels. The proposed retail shop front, which will permanently combine what was originally three shop fronts, makes a mockery of the notion of conservation of traditional streetscape. Furthermore,The No Tesco campaign has clearly shown that the likely amount of servicing by large delivery lorries required by the proposed supermarket will cause serious and prolonged traffic congestion on a main arterial road, and on a bus lane. The proposed refrigeration units to the rear will be noisy, and though the noise report submitted is slick, it is clearly misleading.
Even on the narrow planning grounds where the No Tesco campaign has been forced to fight, it is abundantly clear what the applicant is attempting to do: By seeking to cram as much as possible into a space that is clearly not designed for such an operation, Tesco have shown that their goal is retail conquest by any means possible. This will certainly be damaging to the fragile but enduring local economy, and this is not acceptable. Net local employment would be certain to fall.
I would remind you that Stokes Croft and Montpelier are both designated Conservation areas, both defined by their independent local businessesand by their alternative culture, characteristics which are treasured to the extent that Stokes Croft now defines itself as “Bristol’s Cultural Quarter”. The proposed incursion of a ubiquitous supermarket chain represents the very antithesis of our Community’s aspirations.
It falls to you today, councillors, to decide where you stand. The incredibly hard working and diligent No Tesco campaigners have given you sufficient reasons to back the aspirations of our communityand to refuse Tesco’s application. It is up to you now to make your choice.
There is a clear change in the way the political wind is blowing.
I quote from Our own Government.’s Community and Local Govt. website, published on Dec. 6th, just two days ago : http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/1788684
Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said :
“For far too long local people have had too little say over a planning system that has imposed bureaucratic decisions by distant officials in Whitehall and the town hall. We need to change things so there is more people-planning and less politician-planning, so there is more direct democracy and less bureaucracy in the system. These reforms will become the building blocks of the Big Society.”
Greg Clark, Minister for Planning and Decentralisation, added:
“Most people love where they live, yet the planning system has given them almost no say on how their neighbourhood develops. The Coalition Government will revolutionise the planning process by taking power away from officials and putting it into the hands of those who know most about their neighbourhood - local people themselves. This will be a huge opportunity for communities to exercise genuine influence over what their home town should look like in the future. It will create the freedom and the incentives for those places that want to grow, to do so, and to reap the benefits. “
Our own Central Government has finally recognised the failure of our planning system to deliver decisions that make sense, and will soon cede decision making to local community groups.
I urge you to heed the winds of change, indeed to be in the vanguard of this change. Take courage, back the local community and refuse to allow any supermarket chain into our community, by all means possible.
Unfortunately, our councillors were not listening…were not listening to the people who elect them to act in their interests. The meeting ended in uproar. Cries of “Shame” rang around the room, and severl people were physically ejected by security, including Mr. Chalkley.
Stokes Croft has been blighted by poor planning decisions for decades. This is another of these, and clearly calls into question the legitimacy of the planners and our Councillors to act on our behalf.
Our Central Government is on the verge of publishing a new Localism Bill, which is at the heart of the Coalition’s new shiny plans for Mr. Cameron’s Big Society. Perhaps this decision will be the catalyst that kickstarts the process whereby our local areas demand real autonomy.
As Claire Milne writes on the bottom of all her e-mails:
“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing”
- Tesco would require a staggering 42 weekly deliveries potentially obstructing a main route into the city for 28 hours – at times the store manager often cannot predict – putting the safety of the local community seriously at risk
The Council’s planning team are refusing to assess the impact of such deliveries because they say it is not relevant to these applications. But the Government’s Planning Inspectorate, the final authority on this says otherwise. The demonstration today is vital to make sure the Councillors, who will ultimately make the planning decision on the case, have the correct facts and are not swayed by the inaccuracies and misinformation of Bristol City Council’s planning team.
Claire Milne, local resident and spokes person for NO Tesco in Stokes Croft said,
“We’re blocking the road for exactly the same period as a Tesco delivery lorry; this will legally be happening every day if the store goes ahead. Bristol City Council’s planning team are completely misinformed when they say that the impact of deliveries are not relevant to the application. These are real lives at stake – its about time Tesco and our Council’s planning officers took responsibility for this.”
For more information and interviews please contact Claire Milne: 07824 878904
Image use please credit: Mark Simmons Photography
 Councillors will meet again at 2pm on Wednesday 8 December at the Council House to decide whether Tesco can open on Cheltenham Road.
 Tesco would require six lorries to deliver within a six hour period every day, blocking this main route into the city, a cycle path and a bus stop, for up to 40 minutes a time. This totals a staggering 42 weekly deliveries potentially obstructing the road for 28 hours – at times the store manager often cannot predict. And if that isn’t dangerous enough, the extremely narrow Picton Lane will be used for thecollection of refuse and recycling.
These are the statistics from the planning application for the Mill Road store in Cambridge
that is incredibly similar to the one proposed.
The proposed location is simply not an appropriate site for a store like Tesco which requires a high volume of deliveries and collections made in large vehicles and involving metal cages that would cross the pavement and cycle lane for prolonged periods of time. The vehicles would unload across a cycle path, immediately next to a bus stop and two busy crossroads with pedestrian crossings and in an area where cyclists, school children and people with limited mobility are likely to be particularly concentrated. The threats to public and highway safety are significant and it is inconceivable that no assessment has been made.
The owner of a cycle repair workshop based on Picton Lane said, “I’m disgusted that a Tesco is being built here, I pay my business rates and no one consulted me or any of the residents and businesses on Picton Lane. The volume of traffic is already far beyond that which the lane is designed for and there have already been several accidents. Every day there I see near misses and only a couple of years ago a resident was seriously injured by a car.”
images ©Mark Simmons
Planning Report Released – Take Action NOW!
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
Today, WEDNESDAY 1 DECEMBER, we are demonstrating our point about the disruption that deliveries will create. We will meet at the Canteen at 2pm to move together to the proposed site where we will form a human delivery lorry to highlight how ridiculous it would be to have 6 deliveries a day for 40 minutes a time, equating to one an hour every hour between 10am and 4pm.
We are also holding a public meeting on Monday 6 December (this coming Monday) at Hamilton House, please come along and show your support.
There is just one week left until the final decision is made – this is your last chance to take action for your community.
The Planning Officers have now released their report to Councillors ahead of the hearing on Wed 8 December. Thank you to the more than 100 people who sent in objections.
- The Council have dismissed our comments about deliveries, SPD10 and the Community Involvement Statement, saying that these were addressed and dismissed at the 22 Sept meeting. We do not agree.
- Without any justification or explanation, the Council have dismissed the points raised about the acoustic report that highlights significant inaccuracies pointing to the machinery not being able to meet the Council’s conditions.This means they have basically consulted the community and then totally ignored our responses without any explanation. This is totally unacceptable.
Therefore we URGENTLY need to raise this point with the Councillors ahead of the meeting, asking them:
Are they are happy that our comments have been ignored with no explanation?
It was they who insisted that an acoustic report was needed for a decision to be made – are they now happy that this decision will be made without any attention being paid to significant inaccuracies being detected?
Please come along to the public meeting on Monday 6th December and act now for your community.
Tesco’s noise report was full of holes. Thank you to the many of you who sent in letters pointing this out. The Council has now raised this with Tesco and they are due to clarify the situation this week. Watch this space – they will have to consult us all again if they want to amend the report.
Stokes Croft says NO to Tesco
We’ve kept Tesco out of Stokes Croft for a year! The community’s response to Tesco trying to open up shop in Stokes Croft has been immense: 2500 postcards were sent to the Council objecting to another supermarket and demanding consultation; and 96% of local residents surveyed said another supermarket is not necessary – with already 5 Tesco’s within a mile. Even the leader of Bristol City Council and our local MP have both publicly supported our campaign and have written to Tesco asking them to respect our culturally distinct community and go away! Still they continue to try to drive their way into our high street.
Unfortunately for Tesco, they got more than they bargained for in Stokes Croft. They bought the lease on the site in Cheltenham Road last November and a year on, more determined than ever, we continue to resist their invasion into our community. The energy that has come out of this lengthy process has been overwhelming – community spirit feels incredibly upbeat and focussed. This is what happens when bullies try to dis-empower the masses: we only grow stronger!
Thanks to all your letters of objection Tesco have been refused a license to sell alcohol in Stokes Croft. This is no mean feat and sends a strong message to the UK’s largest food retailer about the power of local communities – a massive well done to everyone! Find out more about the license refusal HERE.
The fight continues
On 22 September Bristol City Council held a public meeting to decide whether Tesco could open in Stokes Croft. Hundreds from the community attended to voice a definitive NO and to witness justice be served. After a lengthy and astonishingly pro-Tesco performance by the Council’s Planning team, Councillors decided that the decision should be deferred due to the lack of an acoustic report and Tesco’s failure to comply with certain conditions.
Tesco has now submitted its acoustic report and amended plans and Councillors will meet again on Wednesday 8 December at 2pm to assess this new information, listen to our objections and decide whether to grant permission for the proposed Tesco Express store to open. The Council originally announced the meeting date as 27 October but following insistent complaints from the No Tesco in Stokes Croft campaign that this would not allow sufficient time for the community to respond, the meeting has been delayed until December. This is an important victory for the campaign highlighting that this is a battle worth fighting because with enough determination the Council are starting to respond to their responsibility to listen to the community. Read a full update about the 22 September meeting HERE.
It is important to remember that the Council is between a rock and a hard place. Supporting the wishes of the community and rejecting Tesco would make them vulnerable to heavy financial implications because Tesco would attempt to sue them. However it is about time the Council stuck it’s head about the parapet and paid more than lip service to its claims to be the Green Capital. For sure they would be celebrated by communities the world-over for standing up to this oversized and insatiable Goliath.
Make sure 8 December is in your diary, spread the word and check out the TAKE ACTION page to find out how you can object to the planning applications, get involved and support the campaign.
Together we CAN stop Tesco from opening in Stokes Croft!
February 2010 – An inquisitive local found out the workman in 140-142 Cheltenham road were down from London to fit out a new Tesco shop. Word travelled fast that Tesco was trying to open a shop in Stokes Croft by stealth. Over 200 locals turned up to a meeting at Hamilton House. Turns out Tesco applied for planning permission under a different company name back in November 2009 – so much for the community engagement stuff on their website.
The Council, who didn’t realise Tesco were behind the application, sent letters to 55 addresses in the area asking if it was OK to change the use of the building from an entertainment venue to a shop. No more detail than that.
A group of people quietly left the meeting and took matters into their own hands. They took back the premises over night and turned it into a wonderful temporary community space. There were meals, music, language classes, and film showings.
The rest of us turned up to protest on Saturday 13 Feb 2010. The whole of Cheltenham Road was full of people who came to wave placards, blow horns, bang drums, generally make their voices heard.
Following the protest the campaign really got going. Over 2500 people sent postcards to the Council saying the consultation was not good enough. We needed to find out what local residents really think about a supermarket opening up.
Teams of people asked over 500 locals what they thought the impact of a supermarket would be on traffic, the local economy and whether they agreed with the ethics of big supermarkets. 96% of people asked felt a Supermarket on Cheltenham Road would be bad for the area.
March 2010 – A few people went to Bristol City Council to meet with Barbara Janke, Jon Rogers, Zoe Willcox, Nigel Butler and Gary Collins. They were helpful in explaining the predicament we find ourselves in but they say they are powerless to act despite clear opposition to Tesco by the majority of people in the local area.
The Planning Process favours big business and leaves people with little power to influence development in their local area. This campaign is not just about stopping Tesco against the odds but a way to show that planning and development has to change to put people at the heart of the process.
While we were reading boring policy documents and talking politely to the Council, the people peacefully occupying the site had war waged against them. Talk about heavy-handed! Tesco have hired a security firm to turn the Old Jesters into Fort Knox. When it comes to integrating with the community they seem to be going from bad to worse.