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Bristol City Council gives go ahead for Tesco in Cheltenham Road by 4 votes to 3

December 8, 2010

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:

Councillors,

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.

http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/1788684

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”
Arundhati Roy

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36 Comments leave one →
  1. Redvee permalink
    December 8, 2010 11:37 pm

    What a f’kin disgrace. Are we really in need of another T**** on the PRSC HQ doorstep? On their own website T**** proudly claim to have FIFTEEN stores of all types within 2 miles radius. The issue of delivery wagons has been overlooked greatly, at the Bishopston store the lorries park on the zig-zags of the zebra crossing and get away with the offence. Blocking the bus lane will also be ignored no doubt but if me or you were to do the same then the rules would be enforced to the letter. I’m glad I didn’t get a job with them now.

  2. Sue Jones permalink
    December 8, 2010 11:41 pm

    I was impressed by the diverse and very valid arguments put forward by the campaigners.
    The people representing the neighbourhood were from a varied background, thus not just those one would habitually expect.
    But it was blatantly clear as soon as they got the microphone that the planning officers’ mind had been longtime made up and that all the arguments had ended up on deaf ears.

    Depressing to find that people that are there to represent the best interests of the citizens choose to blatantly ignore the wishes of the majority of the Community and instead – in spite of new government policies – still opt to serve the selfish interests of big business.

    This is not the kind of undemocratic decision I had expected in an otherwise progressive town like Bristol.

  3. Gav permalink
    December 9, 2010 12:28 am

    Victory for common sense.

  4. December 9, 2010 1:31 am

    I am so sad for all of you, all of us, who have fought this… the outcome is indeed shameful. If it can happen here in Bristol, what hope elsewhere.
    My new business is struggling, as is the nature of almost all small new local businesses. But we can win – we need to go on working together, and supporting each other, growing the numbers who really understand the meaning of shopping locally, eating locally and living locally.
    Are there any grounds for appeal, or for seeking an enquiry into the incompetence or corruption of the planning process?
    I am ashamed that I was not there, but I was waiting for the fridge man to come and sort out my counter which had decided to turn into a freezer- as if the weather were not enough….
    love Prue

  5. Jan permalink
    December 9, 2010 10:17 am

    Well surprize surprize!
    What a very sad but unfortunately too predictable outcome.
    I wonder what deals are going on behind closed doors to get this planning permission through?
    Meanwhile ..Let the fun begin again…
    I propose we call the police to report their loading blocking of the main highway every time it happens.
    Boycott the shop of course.. and lets think up a few other shenanigans to enliven the process!
    Viva la revolution.

  6. December 9, 2010 10:28 am

    It is a disgrace. I was shocked by the way the decision was made. It went from a debate to – suddenly – a vote. There was no proper process of decision-making as far as I could see.

    Cllr Alex Woodman told me afterwards he was just about to propose rejecting the Tesco application, when Cllr (Tim ?) suddenly spoke.

    Cllr Alex Woodman said he thought Cllr Tim was going to reject it too so let him speak first.

    And was surprised that Cllr Tim proposed to accept Tesco’s application.

    So why did you not speak out I asked? Cllr Alex said: as chair it was not his place to override proceedings. But you had no compunction in overriding us campaigners, I said. He said – well it’s different they are elected councillors.

    So the vote to accept Tesco – that could so easily have gone the other way according to Cllr Alex Woodman – was made in seconds.

    A vote that has far-reaching implications for the community’s future and well being and security was made – just like that.

    It was not a proper process.

    And I cannot get out of my mind the way Cllr Jos Clarke’s hand shot up to second Cllr Tim’s seemingly unexpected proposal.

    Cllr Jos Clarke made truculent faces during the proceedings and made it clear with her body language throughout the meeting that she did not like what the campaigners were saying.

    She said NOTHING during the meeting.

    But her hand shot up to second it.

    What IS going on? Is this serious grown-up decision-making?

    Cllr Tim (what IS his surname?) had the CHEEK to say afterwards to Claire that she should have marshalled her arguments better.

    OUR arguments were impeccable and cogent.

    The councillors had no clear arguments.

    Is this democracy? When huge far-reaching decisions come down to a vote amongst seven ill-informed and partisan individuals?

    Shame on the council.

  7. Alex permalink
    December 9, 2010 1:04 pm

    This is shocking news. I am saddened that the efforts and oppinions of local people are being stamped on by the very council they pay tax to and elect.

    It will have to get physical now. That Tesco shop front is going to regret it ever stuck its sickeningly dull logo on our streets.

    The City council needs to learn that if you mess with the masses, revolutiion will arise. Heads will roll.

  8. Matthew K permalink
    December 9, 2010 2:07 pm

    Has anyone considered issuing a Judicial Review of the decision????

    • December 10, 2010 2:51 am

      Matthew K:

      Thanks for the suggestion. Yes, the campaigners are considering a judicial review.

  9. December 9, 2010 2:26 pm

    Sorry to hear about the decision – from afar, I can see that everyone involved has been incredibly passionate and dedicated to the cause.

  10. Mima permalink
    December 9, 2010 2:39 pm

    I am utterly confused as to how the case was called to such an abrupt end with so many important and unsatisfied issues still remaining. I am also surprised that a case as important as this could come down to such a close vote (4 for the motion and 3 against) and the permission still be granted – surely this suggests that further research needs to be done such as impact assessments (which it is incredible that this has not already been required).

    I am also stunned that some of the councillors who voiced very serious concerns, especially concerning deliveries, were able to then vote for the motion (ie Deputy Lord Mayor Christopher Davies). I do not see how this was a balanced and satisfactory hearing.

  11. Andrew P permalink
    December 9, 2010 2:45 pm

    Of course, the introduction of the massive new Sainsbury’s by the Arches without any of this opposition makes a fair mockery of the protests. Whilst I am not in favour of having another tescos, it makes me wonder why no one bothered doing anything about the Sainsburys half a mile up the road.

  12. David Trew permalink
    December 9, 2010 3:09 pm

    The whole anti-Tesco campaign has been based around this notion:

    “We don’t like Tesco, and we don’t want them here, therefore we have a legally valid case for denying them planning permission”.

    On this premise, you were always on a hiding to nothing, because simply put, it is false.

    It’s such a shame that the somewhat brighter ones in the group led so many of the campaigners up the garden path in their belief of this notion. This wasted everyones’ time, and cost the local taxpayer £60K to get rid of the imported idiots that occupied the new Tesco site.

    It’s astonishing that it took until the very last planning meeting for this group to finally wise up and TRY to fight the planning application on valid legal grounds. It’s as sad as it is astonishing however that these arguments were appallingly thin, biased in the extreme, and so easy to counter. It’s a perfect example of blind dogma and groupthink at its worse. There are many, many people out there who welcome this new store, you just don’t want to acknowledge this.

    If you really support your local community then why not do something positive like create a ‘Shop Local’ campaign that champions all of the reasons why we should support local traders? Your blindly militant operations will just cause more anguish, more disappointment, and waste many hours that could be put to so much better use. Claire Milne strikes me as someone with a lot of energy – this could be put to so much better use than using it to behave like Captain Ahab.

  13. December 9, 2010 3:36 pm

    Gav – it was a victory for undemocratic forces.

    Presumably you prefer big business to roll over the local community, disguise its planning application and bulldoze through, aided by councillors who even when they publicly state that they do not understand the technical pros and cons of the situation vote for Tescos.

    Fear of being sued and Tesco’s council tax probably decided it.

    Now Stokes Croft can look forward to 8+ juggernaut deliveries a day near a junction, 2 bus stops and on a cycle path, all on a busy Bristol artery road.

    I suggest that the No to Tescos campaigners send clear and relevant complaints in respect of this to Corporate Complaints Manager at Bristol City Council: tim.sheppard@bristol.gov.uk.

    If enough people send clear and relevant complaints about the impact of Tescos on Stokes Croft, it is possible that an independent ombudsman could be brought in to revisit the situation and reassess the councillors’ decision.

    It’s a pity that this route was not pursued before.

  14. Jamie permalink
    December 9, 2010 5:55 pm

    The arrogance of the No Tesco campaign, PRSC in general, in assuming that they speak for the whole community when in reality they merely canvas the views of those who agree with them already, beggars belief.

    There are many people in the area who will gladly continue to support the independent stores when they can, but who have work routines that mean they need an alternative outside of their restricted opening hours. Like it or not this Tesco is needed and will succeed.

    As Mr. Trew suggests, perhaps a few of those involved could put their evident energy to better use in more positive ways.

    • dan permalink
      December 10, 2010 3:20 am

      @Jamie, just walk up the road to Sainsbury’s

      @ D Trew Stokes Croft is a place of clultral importance to the area, and Tesco’s doesn’t fit in with that. It wouldn’t be acceptable in a place of Architectural importance/heritage and neither should it be here, but big business prevails as allways.

  15. tom permalink
    December 9, 2010 8:12 pm

    Yeah Jamie, well needed, what with the Tesco at the bus station, the one on Gloucester road, another Sainsbury up there, oh and a Co-op, there really aren’t enough Supermarkets within a 200m radius to support your needs.

    You arrogance in thinking that the No Tesco Campaign/PSRC speak for all of us beggars belief. Plenty of us, off our own bat have bothered writing to the council, have researched what monoplies do to an economy, and live close by and know that there are valid and important reasons why this application should have been turned down

    But indeed your need for crappy, expensive sandwiches is much more important than the local economy, the traffic situation, the cheap booze, the noise on tiny Picton Lane , the Conservation area, the importance of democracy, and so on.

  16. Rob Triggs permalink
    December 9, 2010 10:27 pm

    Andrew, The reason why so little was done about the Sainsbury’s by the Arches was that very little could be done. The premises was already appropriately designated for food and drink retail use and had previously held an alcohol licence so the only question the councillors had to decide on was whether to grant an alcohol licence for longer hours than previously (which, despite strenuous representations from many of those of us involved in the No Tesco campaign, they chose to do). The Tesco situtation is different in that the Jesters site was previously not classed for retail use nor did it have an alcohol licence. Chalk and cheese really – we dislike Sainsbury’s just as much as Tesco…
    Rob

  17. Steve permalink
    December 9, 2010 10:54 pm

    Here’s a question. If I can’t cycle down the bike/bus lane because there’s a lorry in my way, can I just get off my bicycle and wheel it round the shop. I could imagine them getting fairly upset, especially on a wet day. But there are enough lorries planned that if everyone on a bicycle blocked by a lorry got off, pushed their bike through the store and then carried on, they’d get a hint.

    otherwise, what about an ASBO for continuous blocking of a bike/bus lane?

  18. Helmit Anderson permalink
    December 9, 2010 11:52 pm

    Well we all know that Bristol city council are in bed with Tesco and the Goverment!
    This result is a disgrace!

  19. dez permalink
    December 10, 2010 1:18 pm

    Alex,

    Threatening to vandalise the Tesco shop front just makes you look like more of a moron than you already are. This ‘throwing toys out the pram’ attitute will not get you anywhere. Any damage will be quickly repaired, and more than likely you will be caught on cctv and receive a criminal record, making your sad life even more pathetic.
    Why don’t you stop behaving like a teenager, get a job, and try and make a positive influence on the community in other ways?

  20. David Trew permalink
    December 10, 2010 2:47 pm

    From Kelvin Yearwood’s post…

    *************

    “Now Stokes Croft can look forward to 8+ juggernaut deliveries a day near a junction, 2 bus stops and on a cycle path, all on a busy Bristol artery road”.

    *************

    This is another perfect example of the nonsense that this group spouts. (I don’t accept that Cheltenham Road is in Stokes Croft, but by the by…)

    8+ juggernauts a day to service a 3000sq ft shop, with storage at the back???

    They are so insane with rage and their own dogma that they propagate such utter rubbish as this.

    Somerfield (Co-Op) on Glouc Road gets ONE delivery a week (I once asked their manager). It’s a 7000 sq ft shop floor. True enough that a big artic delivers the goods, but it does so at midnight. I’ve seen it personally. It was the same with Chris Chalkley’s pathetic attempt to discredit the plant noise report. To listen to the No-Tesco mob you’d believe that the noise equivalent of helicopters landing will take place every day as Tesco runs its air-conditioning and refrigeration plant.

    I’m now almost bored with swatting down this hysteria, but when you’re the person pointing out that someone’s religion is bogus and based on false premises, it becomes a mission of its own. and of course, they don’t want to let facts and legitimate reports get in the way of their arguments.

    The simple truth here (as Jamie points out so well in the comment above), is that there is a group of people who cannot accept that they haven’t succeeded in dictating the terms of approval in the area, and speak only amongst, and for themselves.

    The new Tesco will service the needs of the 250 or so in the Linden building, those that live in Arley Hill, and most likely the many pedestrians that walk to work via Cheltenham Road. On that basis alone it will succeed.

    The PRSC needs to learn that it doesn’t speak for the community. It needs to learn that there are many within its self-determined location, who disagree with its politics and have very different views about how the area should develop. And until the PRSC and its imported helpers learn to accept that their elitism, dressed up as art and philanthropy, is actually nothing more than a tired old class war, the kind of divisions in the SC community that have developed as a result of the new Tesco will continue.

    I for one, will be perfectly happy to oppose their nonsense on a very pro-active level if needs be.

    • December 10, 2010 3:01 pm

      David Trew, your clearly quite emotional – calm down.

      Have you not heard of just-in-time stock delivery? Tescos has moved into the 21st century, and computerised just-in-time stock delivery will entail exactly what I suggested.

  21. December 10, 2010 4:06 pm

    10.12.10
    I have been heartened and impressed by the NO to Tesco! campaign and all the intensive and hard work by the PRSC Movement. Having been a resident in Montpelier for over the 30 years and seeing very little change in the blight upon Stokes Croft the PRSC Movement have truely shown us the POWER OF THE PEOPLE and the repeated lack of moral courage of some of those who have been voted in to represent the citizens of an area. I see a repeat of the ‘SPINE ROAD’ Scandal, which people power help to uncover and save aspects of this conservation area. Likewise, the tram bids that have never happened as a reality despite arduous work by citizens to bring forth a reality of common sense to our city transport systems.
    We have to keep campaigning against negative parochial and market forces agendas and hope and work for positive economic and community inspired developments, which as we have seen have done more SUPPORTIVE GOOD for Stokes Croft than any political lazinesss and invested interests.

    All POWER TO THE PRSC MOVEMENT!

  22. David Trew permalink
    December 10, 2010 7:47 pm

    @Kelvin. I’m fine thanks mate, and perfectly calm.

    Truth is you’re just making stuff up to suit your already flimsy arguments.

    8 artic lorries could carry around eight times the stock capacity of that one store, so enlighten me; do you envisage that store being soooo busy after you and your cronies boycott it, that it will need to replenish its entire stock eight times a day?

    It makes absolutely no commercial sense at all for even one delivery a day from a massive artic, particularly where the store itself is building food stores at the rear of the property.

    @Dan. Please explain to me the cultural importance of the SC area. I’ve worked there for 15 years, and I see very little evidence of ‘cultural importance’. You’re probably referring to the self-interest and exaggerated claims of the PRSC. Don’t be fooled – they are a laughing stock to many, and despised by others. I recognise that their intentions are good, and I appreciate some of the murals pinned on old buildings, but their idea that art will be the saviour of SC, and make it an area for Bristol to be proud of, is pure fantasy. It will take much more than art, or a bunch of kidults to make an area like SC acceptable and popular with Bristol as a whole.

    • December 10, 2010 10:38 pm

      Hi David,

      Ok. I needed to be told this a few days ago myself.

      Tesco’s fill up their large articulated lorries by computer, with different sections of the produce in the lorry destined for different stores, all packed so they can get to the stock needed, inside the lorry, for the next store . The individual stores electronically have told the central computer and depot what they are running out of.

      The depots are centralised and lorries leaving them, fully laden, will have stock to top-up any amount of stores with particular products now running low. So the idea is not to have a lorry-load of stock delivered to one store where it sits around for ages waiting to be bought. The idea is to keep topping up lots of stores from one lorry in a fleet of lorries. That way Tescos gets to save on buying lots of stored stock.

      So the Stokes Croft Tescos will need bread and pastries etc in the morning, then a little later they may need veg, then cakes and biscuits, then grooming goods and razors, etc etc.

      That’s how it works. So expect lots of deliveries every day.

    • December 11, 2010 2:22 am

      Ok David _ I

      • December 11, 2010 2:42 am

        Sorry – computer arrow went off on its own little trip- a bit like you David. I am an imported supporter of the regeneration of Stokes Croft- middle class, living on Gloucester Road and only 3 years in Bristol….. but in that 3 years I have seen a huge change in Stokes Croft and I do not think that it was initiated or implemented by people like you. To see the history and the potential you need to look up and see the grand buildings for what they once were and believe passionately that it is possible to create a shift. I admire all those who have contributed to this shift….. the artists, the shopkeepers, the folk behind the canteen, PRSC and so many others. I may not go along with every argument, or every idea, but unless I have something better or more positive to contribute, I keep schtum. On the specifics of the Tesco argument, there is well researched evidence that large supermarkets drain money from the local economy- check out the New Economics Foundation, and, if you are still unconvinced after considering the evidence, make your arguments cogently and intelligently. Most of the anti Tesco people know the score and have done their homework. Further, unequal societies seem to generate proprtionately more crime, drug abuse and other social ills. Tesco, with its huge proportion of very low paid staff and a tiny proportion of very highly paid people, epitomises the worst excesses of inequality. Please stop ranting at anti Tesco people in such an emotive and patronising fashion. If you have serious positive and thoughtful arguments, state them so that we may all understand where you are coming from, and be able to consider for ourselves the validity of your sources of information.

  23. David Trew permalink
    December 11, 2010 3:22 pm

    @ Prue.

    The Anti-Teco brigade irritate me specifically for exactly the opposite reasons you credit them with. There are some bright and well-intentioned individuals amongst them for sure, but on the whole, most of the arguments they have espoused over the last year have been hysterical, and based more on anti-capitalism ideology than any specific valid objections to a new tiny supermarket. There are plenty of examples even in this blog thread. The “8 articulated lorries a day” comment is my personal favourite. And if people are dumb enough to write hysterical nonsense like that, then in my book they deserve to be patronised.

    This is a tiny Tesco store amongst many other businesses, and a high population density. It’s not some huge hypermarket. The arguments against this particular store are largely groundless and as I keep saying, mostly hysterical. It is true that the UK’s hypermarket developments have certainly changed shopping patterns over the last three decades, and if you’ve been watching the BBC’s Turn Back Time – the High Street’ series, you’d have seen that very history brought to life. Yes, it’s sad in some respects, but to me it is simply how life is progressing. I see the anti-Tesco people as little more than modern day Luddites.

    My beef with the PRSC is that it does not speak for the community, yet claims that it does. It is a self-interest group, that thinks and speaks from within itself. It is myopic, and lives in a childish fantasy world. If you want the very best definition of patronising Prue, just take a look at the way they behave. I am sick to death of being labelled as part of their community because I am based in what they call Stokes Croft. I want nothing to do with them or their ideology. If Chris Chalkley simply got on with promoting his art, and setting up cafes for the eclectic and bohemian types that live in, and frequent Montpelier, without his relentless anti-capitalism, anti-consumerism obesessions, then I’d be happy to be part of his ‘community’ and help wherever I could. This, sadly, is far from the case.

    For the record, I started Jesters 15 years ago. I took over the bankrupt Malaap club (the site Tesco will now occupy) and ran the most successful comedy club in the South-west for around 12 yearsin that very building. I came under flack from the locals even back then. Apparently it was my fault that the Malaap went bust, and no-one round there wanted a comedy club, one angry local knocked on our doors to tell me soon after we had the keys to the building. She’d asked around apparently.

    There are many hard-working people in and around Stokes Croft who desperately want to see it improve. By ‘improve’ I mean get cleaned up, invested in, and attract custom. Simply pinning murals to buildings and daubing childish slogans all over the place is not going to help that cause.

    In your piece above you say this…

    “To see the history and the potential you need to look up and see the grand buildings for what they once were and believe passionately that it is possible to create a shift”

    On my part, I have brought one of Bristol’s most iconic buildings back to life, and re-created it for its original purpose – if you’ll allow me the poetic licence of silent cinema to live comedy and music venue. I can tell y0u that there was a lot of “looking up of grand buildings” during that project and no small amount of negotiating with English Heritage as to the fineries of what we could and couldn’t do. I’d like to think on that score alone, I have done my bit.

    I might also be credited with being one of the pioneers of that area. 15 years ago it was derelict and disgusting. My bankers at the time took a lot of persuading that investing in a run-down building that had housed a failed business, in an area they looked on with disdain was a good idea. There was literally nothing of any value in that stretch at the time – The Pipe and Slippers was a revolting, avoid-at-all-costs, £1 a pint pub called The Berkeley Castle. The Salvation Army building was a rotten tooth in the ground, and none of the now very nice bars like The Social and Leftbank existed at all. My point is that it takes courage, investment and hard work for these things to spring up. They then cannot exist without custom. Custom comes from people with money spending it at these businesses. Right now, the people with money still avoid SC like the plague.

    My vision for SC is that it becomes like Gloucester Road, where the well-heeled middle classes happily spend their cash at independents and corporates alike. Gloucester Road thrives, and everyone co-exists in relative harmony. I genuinely don’t see why this can’t be the case with SC – everyone would benefit, even those intent on keeping it looking and feeling like the Dickensian shithole it still is.

  24. David Trew permalink
    December 12, 2010 5:15 pm

    @Prue (again)

    Another sentence from your earlier blog:

    “I have seen a huge change in Stokes Croft and I do not think that it was initiated or implemented by people like you”.

    I forgot to mention that it was me that owned and set up ‘The Croft’ pub from 1999 – 2007. That too was a run down pub called ‘The Bristol Brewhouse’ which despite success earlier in the 90s had become another desperate £1-a-pint pub verging on bankruptcy.

    I wonder whether on that basis, and my investment in our new venture, Metropolis, (as described in my previous comment) you’d be willing to take your comment under consideration.

    • December 13, 2010 1:59 pm

      David I take it back and apologise unreservedly. I was not aware of the extent of your investment, -time, energy and cash-, but still do not see why you need to knock others who essentially have a similar agenda: a vital and lively area. Surely a wide variety of locally focussed people all working to the same end is needed to deliver this. And Tesco would not contribute to this process in any positive way.

  25. David Trew permalink
    December 14, 2010 4:43 am

    Thanks Prue – no need for any apology – I’m just glad that you’ve recognised that I am someone that actually does have a vested interest in the area and has spent the last 15 years of my life in it. At least when I shout my mouth off, I have insider knowledge and can credibly claim to have put my money where my mouth is, which is a lot more than can be said for the Claire Milnes of the world. I often wonder who the hell she thinks she is.

    I have become sick to death of what I see as imported do-gooders springing up from nowhere, to tell me what is good for SC. I also get very frustrated with dogma, stupidity, and people using this as an opportunity to promote their wider political agendas.

    As I see it, the whole anti-Tesco thing has been more of a crusade against a corporate outfit that it is fashionable to hate, than having anything to do with a tiny supermarket opening up. If it were the Co-Op for example, no-one would be saying or doing anything. All that would be different is the identity of the corporation in the building. All the objections as levied against Tesco would still stand, but no-one would make anything of them.

    This might give you reason to understand why I “knock others who essentially have a similar agenda”. In short, I don’t believe that they do.

    140-142 Cheltenahm Road as a building is a disaster zone from a maintenance perspective. To fix it properly, it needs £180K spent on it – this was the quote I had from the architects 3 years ago, working with the THI (Townscape Heritage Initiative) scheme. We could have had 75% of that money covered under this scheme, but at the time, my money and energy were focussed on the new venue (Metropolis).

    I disagree that Tesco would not contribute to the area. I’ll list why below:

    1) They will spend the money on that building to bring it up to scratch. It is defined as a building in a conservation area, which to all intents and purposes, means that it is listed. As such, it can only be repaired and maintained in keeping with its original design. Some may not like their frontage proposals, but having seen them, I believe that they are a good option. And if historic frontages were such an issue to these same people, why aren’t they protesting about the two garages immediately next door?

    2) Even though most reading this hate Tesco with a passion, what they will bring to the area is money; money from people who see SC as nothing other than somewhere to be avoided. (I know plenty of them). If the brave souls who have dared to set up in business in SC want a better chance of survival, then this is exactly what they need. Perhaps some of the terrible food stores will suffer, but I don’t see that as a bad thing. Places like Biblos (bought a Falafel from there today – best falafel I’ve ever had!) could be exactly the type of place that benefits from a greater footfall in the area. And so they deserve to.

    3) Following the theme of 2) above – like it or not, SC has a terrible image problem. Whilst the PRSC might have honourable intentions it is very misguided and myopic. Pinning murals to buildings looks pretty in the short term, but it isn’t a solution of any kind whatsoever. Mr Chalkley’s dreams again, might be romantic, but they are far from realistic. The only solution for SC is financial investment. Financial investment only comes where there is an opportunity for profit. There simply isn’t enough money in the SC community to sustain itself or grow beyond itself. A Tesco store gives the impression to investors that there is a viable market in an area. It might also make those who just put their head down, earphones in, and quicken their pace through SC on their walk to/from work, stop and look around, even if they are just buying a packet of fags from Tesco.

    Finally, I’d ask what is wrong with SC becoming like Gloucester Road? To do that it would need a corporate here and there. Perhaps the PRSC HQ could become a Starbucks…. If so, I’d probably be its first customer! ;-)

    • December 14, 2010 11:25 am

      David- 1- I am not keen on the personal tone/ insult aspect of your criticism. Claire has spent a long time learning about and active within the area of food politics. She has been approached for her expertise on a national as well as local level, and lives locally- not for as long as you perhaps- but longer than I, and I do not think that this is about how long people live somewhere. She would therefore answer the second point more effectively than I can, but I will try ..
      Tesco will drain money from the area. The problem with any large business that is not locally based is that the profits that it creates are distributed elswhere. If you or I make any money much of it will be pushed back round the local economy. Secondly their colossal purchasing power means that they routinely put local shops out of business so they actually reduce the size of the locally based economy. These arguments are simplistically expressed but the research has been done- please check out the work of the New Economics Foundation and read Tescopoly (no I haven’t read it, but I have followed NEF’s work). I am not trying to persuade you to think differently, rather to have respect for other people who have also put time and energy into the area.
      As for Chris- he may be bonkers at times but he is inspiring and energetic and incredibly hard working, and so far he and his team have made a positive difference in thousands of small ways. Is this stags at dawn or what? Just let him do his thing and give him credit for it rather than slagging him off in public. It serves no useful purpose and detracts from your arguments because it makes you look petty and personal. Perhaps you are, but it is a pity to show it in a public place.
      And you can hardly expect me not to defend my own falafels- and my wraps are way better than Biblos…. but I am not prepared to air my personal experiences and predjudices in a public forum. I will be working in Shake Wrap and Roll tomorrow from midday over lunchtime, and on the 8 to 11 shift on Thursday and Friday. In those circumstances I will have to have a civilised face to face discussion but even in the cafe, the customers is not always completely right.!

  26. David Trew permalink
    December 15, 2010 2:26 am

    I had no idea you made falafels Prue, you didn’t say – I’ll happily buy one from you and compare with Biblos – I’m sure yours are very nice too. Is there a Hens at dawn thing between Shake, Wrap and Roll, and Biblos then? ;-) Or are you both competing for a share of a market that is too small? Perhaps the local economy can only support a certain number of cafes and bars…?

    If I can I’ll drop by at 2ish for a falafel tomorrow and you can throw things at me if you like. Could be fun.

    See you then. Dave

  27. Redvee permalink
    January 2, 2011 1:28 am

    Maybe the anti Tesco brigade and Council should have sat down and sorted out some sort of persuasion for Tesco to agree to like they did in West Bromwich where Tesco paid £7m for a Police Station. If this had happened in Stokes Croft maybe we would have a soultion to the Wetsmoreland House problem?

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