Sunday, 5 July 2009

Greater Bedminster Residents meet to form “No-Superstore” Campaign Group


5th July 2009

More than 70 people from Greater Bedminster packed into a meeting room at the Southville Centre on Friday night, to hear more about the proposed Tesco superstore development at Ashton Gate Stadium.

Local residents, Chris Uttley and Tom Griffin, who organised the meeting said, “Whilst we are seeing plenty of information about the supposed benefits, there has been no opportunity for public discussion about the massive increase in traffic, noise, air pollution and disruption created by a store that opens 7 days a week for virtually all day.

“We wanted to give all residents and traders an opportunity to voice their concerns without the stage-managed atmosphere of the Public Relations devised consultation they have had so far”

Traders from North Street, people who live in close proximity to the stadium and residents from throughout the area, including many Bristol City Football Club supporters, heard more about the plans and were given an opportunity to voice their concerns.

Many people at the meeting commented on how inappropriate the proposal seems. Abigail Stollar, a Southville resident said, “ I shop all the time on North Street. What’s being proposed will contribute very little to the local community and will have a massive impact on the existing shops and businesses. I like the fact I can walk round the corner with my kids to buy virtually everything I need”.

Some residents highlighted the rushed manner in which they were being consulted and the ad-hoc way in which information is being released. In many cases, people who live very close to the stadium had not been consulted at all. Only 3 people raised their hands when asked how many had been approached directly for their views.

People were particularly angry at the way this development has been linked with plans for a new stadium and the Bristol World Cup bid and the attempt to brand those who oppose a new superstore as anti-World cup and anti-Bristol City. Many people said this was “cynical”, “ill-judged” and “divisive”.

George Ferguson, owner of the Tobacco Factory, summed up the feeling from the meeting saying, “There is nothing like a major threat to its future to galvanise a community. This is an appalling proposal – another giant shopping shed set in a massive sea of car parking. The potential economic and environmental damage to this area is immense. I fully recognise the importance of Bristol City’s success but it is quite wrong to imply that a new supermarket is something to do with the new stadium or the World Cup – the two issues have to be de-coupled. It is inappropriate and legally dubious to consider the applications for the new stadium and the new supermarket simultaneously”.

The proposal to create a group to fight the proposal was welcomed by all those who attended and many volunteered to be directly involved. BERATE has now begun a petition against the superstore and will continue to oppose the plans and gauge the response of a larger cross-section of the community towards the development.

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